Campus & Community

Student innovators compete in R&E Day’s Pitch Olympics

In what is becoming one of the most anticipated events of Stevens’ Research and Entrepreneurship Day, students pitched business ideas for new technologies to a panel of five experts.

With only two minutes to pitch their ideas, the teams got a taste of what’s referred to in the venture world as elevator pitches. The concept refers to the short amount of face time an entrepreneur might have if he or she could corner a venture capitalist in an elevator.

Leonard T. Nuara (Greenberg Traurig, LLP) served as moderator. The pitches were judged by Lloyd Baroody, an angel investor primarily in B2B technology and a serial entrepreneur in the biopharma area; Jack Levitt, Levitt Executive Advisors, who holds a master’s degree in Technology Management from Stevens, and one of the founders of PlasmaSol; Michael Lucca, a business development executive with the Incubation Factory; and Arun Verma, president of DATA, Inc.

Each pitch was judged based on the quality of the elevator pitch, viability of the business plan and actual intent to pursue business. At the end of the two minute pitch, the judges scored the presentation by holding up numbers from one to 10 (with a 10 representing the strongest pitch).

A diverse array of products were pitched, and ranged from a company that will create an original song for weddings or other special occasions to (Cyrano Song) to a product that would distribute pharmaceutical drugs by means of a quick dissolve strip (Medistrips).

The judges heard pitches about Cyrano Song, Digital Triage Assistant, Easy Keys, Gaming Smart Phones, Immunoclue, Innovative Multi-Card Systems, MediStrips: Fast Acting Nanoscale Medications, My Shuttle Service, Team Sleep Hapnea, and VersaStair.

First prize and $3,000 went to Immunoclue, a rapid diagnostic device. This point-of-care device is used for the detection of a specific protein. Team members Steve DeFroda, Zoe Folchman-Wagner, Jen McGuire, Pete Movilla and Marc van de Rijn have developed this new platform technology that is currently tested specifically with C. trachomatis as a model system. The device results in a color change induced magnetically. The device housing this process was specifically designed to maximize magnetic force on the sample, minimize wait time, limit operator exposure, and provide a negative control sample for each test.

Second prize and $2,000 went to Easy Keys, an automated system that is designed to allow anyone, regardless of experience, to tune a piano at the turn of a key. Developed by Kieran Walters, Patrick Rienzo, Rusell Jones, Victoria Theese and Tom Oliphant, Easy Keys was created to be the alternative to piano owners who require frequent tuning and are unwilling or able to spend thousands of dollars each year to hire tuning technicians.

Third prize and $1,000 went to Sleep Hapnea, a sleep apnea mask paired with a medical grade adhesive that seals itself to the face preventing air leakage from standard CPAP therapy in patients diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. According to team members Olga Djomparin, George Blazeski, Dana Perriello, Erin Broderick and Lisa Iannotto, the mask offers the advantage of comfort. The adhesive is gentle on the skin, yet still holds the mask in place despite the constant flowing air pressure coming from the CPAP machine.

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