Students embraced the opportunity to share their business ideas and compete in the People’s United Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s 2022 pitch competition on April 7.
$15,000 in prize money was up for grabs for students to put toward their businesses.
The 30 applicants that entered the competition were narrowed down to five finalists who competed for the prize money, pitching their ideas in front of a panel of judges.
Director for the People’s United Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Patrice Luoma explained how enriching and beneficial this event is for student entrepreneurs.
“Presenting one’s idea can be intimidating. We encourage students to develop their ideas and present them publicly in order to receive feedback from which they can improve,” said Luoma.
One of the companies was JSM Boats LLC, a multi-day boat rental company that delivers boats to many lakes in Connecticut and Massachusetts. JSM is co-owned by Mike Ulitsch ’21, MBA ’22.
“I’ve loved pitching business ideas in front of people since I was in high school and had the opportunity to do so in a business class. They’re a great opportunity to practice your skills pitching your business to prospective investors, customers and partners,” said Ulitsch. “These competitions also help you get essential validation and feedback on your business ideas so you can improve them going forward.”
Ulitsch, who earned $2,500 to put toward his business, plans to use what he learned from this experience in the future.
“I learned it pays dividends to be willing to put yourself out there. It’s not always easy to be vocal to others about yourself or a business you’re working on,” said Ulitsch. “However, having the confidence to do so is a valuable skill in business and in life. Down the line, I hope to make JSM a success and then start more new ventures full time.”
Tess Rose ’22 decided to showcase her business, CampusCars, to the panel of judges. CampusCars is a ride-sharing company that will partner with universities to offer their students a safer ride-sharing experience. Rose was excited to gain first-hand experience from the competition, she explained.
“This experience taught me how important it is to be a part of a community,” said Rose. “Being around other entrepreneurs and hearing their pitches is interesting. It’s nerve-racking to open up your business for criticism, but ultimately the judges provided great feedback.”
Rose, who won $2,300, plans to use the money for lawyer fees to create the user terms and agreements for CampusCars.
While the pitch competition has concluded, Luoma hopes that the experiences students have gained will help shape their futures in entrepreneurship.
“The pitch competition is a highlight of the year’s activities for the People’s United Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It is one of the ways we visibly promote our student innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Luoma. “We want to create as much visibility as we can for finding students with ideas and innovations and helping them turn those ideas into impact.”