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Honors & Awards
April 25, 2024

Students Present Innovative Business Ideas with Social Impact at 10th Annual Pitch Contest

By Stiven Vasquez Nunez

For the first time in the 10-year history of the St. Francis College (SFC) #BuildYourDream Pitch Contest, graduate and undergraduate student teams competed for cash prizes to support their entrepreneurial ventures.

Competing students presented a range of business ideas — including a YouTube dating show, biodegradable flowerpots, streaming-media super-apps and pediatric cancer care — in three categories: Best Student Business, Best Idea for Sustainable Development and Best Presenter. Contestants had to “wow” the audience and judges — Kathie Lee from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Winnie Siclait from the Brooklyn Public Library and SFC professors Vincent Vazzana and Brent Ferguson — regarding market demand, innovation, technology use and support of the United Nations Sustainability Goals.

In the Best Business category, Kélen Abreu came in first with Iuli, which provides financial services to small businesses. Iuli also creates social impact by given women the opportunity to work from home to balance their career and caregiving needs. Second place went to Flora Makers (Marisol Toxqui, Natalie Arbelaez, Brianna Lamarre and Jasmin Farooq), who created customizable and biodegradable flowerpots using the 3D printers in SFC’s MakerSpace. Third place was a tie between the YouTube dating show ODB TV, by Daouda Bah, and Little Golden Light. Originally founded as a Brooklyn-based toy drive by pediatric-cancer survivor Christopher Safi to bring children hope during the darkest times, Little Golden Light evolved into an established non-profit that offers a range of support services to pediatric-cancer patients and their families.

In the Best Sustainable Business Idea category, Rewan Elsherbiny clinched first place with her cybersecurity startup IronGate. She was also part of the See You team with Saniya Guerrero, Mokhirbek Komilov and Isaiah Scott, which came in second place in the Best Sustainable Business Idea category and also won the audience vote. Using the 3D printers in the SFC MakerSpace, See You developed a prototype of glasses for the visually impaired to help them navigate their environment. Third place in the category went to Maria Eduarda Azevedo Tarré for ONE, a super-app that helps to personalize streaming-media content across channels for consumers.

“Some of the business ideas in the pitch contest were very creative and brilliant, and the passion behind the ideas by the presenters and founders was inspirational. I wish all the pitch contestants much success and can't wait to see their ideas and products excel in the market as they persevere forward on their entrepreneurial journeys,” commented SFC pitch contest judge Kathie Lee of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

Pitch Contest Judges
The judges examining a prototype

"This year’s contest showed that entrepreneurship has many facets and happens across industries and disciplines — from content creators to services and physical products. What all these businesses had in common was the clever use of technology and a passion to change business and society for the better,” added Dr. Esther Klein, divisional dean of Entrepreneurship, Business, Accounting and Technology at SFC.

St. Francis College has been offering a B.S. in Entrepreneurship and Organizational Innovation since 2022. As noted above, the College also has a MakerSpace, which is used for courses and extracurricular programming.

Editor’s note: For more information about entrepreneurship programs and activities at St. Francis College, visit the SFC Entrepreneurship page or contact Katja Schroeder, the director of SFC Entrepreneurship, at [email protected]. To learn more about the author of this news post, Stiven Vasquez Nunez, see his LinkedIn profile.

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