Pitching for the Prize

Students compete for $10K at TeleBrands Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs.

Photo: Mike Peters

The winning team members of Sport Your Sole.

It was a fashion item for the bottom of shoes that rose to the top to win the $10,000 prize in the first-ever student pitch competition at Montclair State University.

The five students on the winning team, Sport Your Sole, will split the $10,000 award in the TeleBrands Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs held May 13 on campus. Some students plan to invest the money in the business while others plan to put their award toward student loans.

“It was a great way to tie the whole journey together,” said Mac Krauss, a junior Psychology major on the winning team. “It was a nice culmination to all the hard work.”

The event was presented by the University’s Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, housed in the School of Business but open to all students. The 18 students competing on four teams were pitching a product or service they had created and refined during two semesters of work in entrepreneurship courses (ENTR 201, 301 and 302). The pitch competition was the final step in the students’ completion of the center’s nine-credit Certificate of Entrepreneurship.

AJ Khubani, president and CEO of TeleBrands and a Montclair State alumnus, was the lead judge for the competition and the major sponsor of the event. The judging panel also included TV pitch personalities Anthony “Sully” Sullivan and Cathy Mitchell.

When he announced the winner, Khubani said the judges had narrowed their choice to two teams: Sport Your Sole and Interviewnomics, a service to help job seekers interview better. Sport Your Sole seemed to have the edge with the judges because they had already sold their product to students and alumni at Montclair State, helping to validate their product and business model.

Khubani said he thought the four teams presented extremely professionally, and that he enjoyed being the lead judge at his alma mater. “It’s great to come back to your school and to be recognized—all kinds of attachments and nostalgia,” he said.

Khubani ate lunch with the five students on the Sport Your Sole team, offering advice about how the team can advance its business. The winning students found the one-hour lunch with Khubani priceless.

“It was invaluable,” said Caroline Regan, a nondegree undergrad who came up with the idea for Sport Your Sole’s product. “He’s already sat there and thought about it. There is no one else who can do it properly, other than him.”

Read the full story at TeleBrands Inventors Day.

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