By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Steve Stumbris, director of Bucknell’s Small Business Development Center said that among this year’s pitches there was a general trend towards social entrepreneurship. The desire to create a business that adds something good to the world.
Budding student entrepreneurs pitched their business and product ideas Tuesday night in a shark-tank like competition as part of Bucknell University’s sixth annual BizPitch at the Elaine Langone Center.
A gourmet coffee company that will produce cold coffee pods, a cosmetic company creating products to promote healthy skin; and a business that will produce interchangeable fabric coverings for arm or leg casts were the top three winning ideas of a competition that featured five pitches.
The top prize of $3,000 was awarded to Teddy Dumbauld’s Apollo Cold Coffee Brew; in second place was Minimal Makeup, a business that is already active, created by Maxine Cook; and third place, Castaways’ covering for casts, by Megan Grossman.
This year there were 10 initial pitches, narrowed down to five finalists, said Steve Stumbris, director of Bucknell’s Small Business Development Center. “A trend that has run through the pitches,” he said, “is the theme of social entrepreneurship. The aspiration to start a social enterprise. A company whose part of the mission is to do good in the world.”
Besides the three winners, notable pitches were the Acme Fellowship, Michael Chen and Ryan Bailis, and their learning program seeking to connect and empower businesses, students and local non-profit organizations; and Sci-Touche, by Nancy Ingabire Abayo and Assumpta Gasana. Their idea was to build an organization seeking to improve the quality of education in Rwanda.
More than 100 students, administrators and area residents watched the pitch session that was judged by five business “celebrities,” some of whom are highly successful start-up entrepreneurs.
Gary Thaniel, co-founder of CNCT Kicks and other businesses, Sherry Collins, deputy secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Economic Development, Juanita Jeffrey, a marketing professional, Mitchell Stewart, co-founder of CTO at Guru, and Erin Jablonski, an associate professor at Bucknell who teaches entrepreneurship.
Thaniel, a Bucknell graduate, class of 2004, said he was thrilled “to get involved in this project and to interact with these young entrepreneurs. I saw five really strong business plans and I wanted to see how the students presented their ideas. When I was a student, entrepreneurship wasn’t on my radar, but nowadays students are very attuned to starting up companies at young ages. They’ve seen a lot of success stories, which is a great motivator.”