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Seton Hall Student Entrepreneurs Win Over $5,000 in Prizes in Pirates Pitch Contest
Seton Hall > News & Events 

Four student entrepreneur teams won more than $5,000 in prizes and business services at Pirates Pitch, the first annual Seton Hall University Venture Fund Competition. At the contest, held on May 1 in Jubilee Hall Auditorium, six student teams pitched original business ideas in 10-minute presentations to a group of independent judges. Additionally, attendees selected the best business idea from among non-finalists for an Audience Participation Award. View the video »

Contest Winners

        Pirates Pitch first place winner.        
Pirates Pitch Winner

        Pirates Pitch second place winner.        
Pirates Pitch Second Place Winner

        Pirates Pitch third place winner.        
Pirates Pitch Third Place Winner

        Pirates Pitch Audience Choice Award.        
Pirates Pitch Audience Choice Award
  • Luciana Contuzzi, a freshman in the Stillman School of Business who entered the contest solo, won the $3,500 first place award for The See-Stick, an inexpensive device that would allow hospitals to more efficiently evaluate and treat patient wounds.

  • Eric Casperson and Andrew Gilberti, seniors in the Stillman School, won the $1,500 second place award for X-Act Sports, a smart phone application that would allow users to more easily track favorite sports teams.

  • A third place, $100 “Honorable Mention” award went to the team of Allen Ratz, a senior in the Stillman School, and Caitlin Papa, a senior in the College of Education and Human Services, for A.C.E. Efforts, a proposal to create a hydroponic farm that would employ autistic young adults in partnership with the Alpine Learning Group, a private non-profit school for autistic students in Paramus, N.J.

The $500 Audience Choice Award was snagged by the student team of Silpa Francis, a freshman in the College of Nursing, and Reena Mehta, a freshman in the Stillman School. The duo proposed the SHUNook, an electronic reader customized with a student’s textbooks. SHU-NOOK was among the 14 non-finalists entries.

“All the student entries were outstanding, and selection was extremely difficult,” said Bob Carr, president and CEO of Heartland Payments Systems, and one of five independent judges. Also acting as judges were Bill Bartzak, CEO and founder of MD-On-Line, Amy Liao, COO and co-founder of Genewiz, Phil Murphy, founding partner of Murphy Miller & Baglieri, and Jeanne Gray, founder of The judges evaluated the student ideas for business start-ups based on several criteria, including originality, viability and growth potential.

“I thoroughly enjoyed watching the student teams pitch their plans. Each business proposal was very unique, and the students were polished and persuasive presenters,” said Joyce Strawser, acting dean of the Stillman School. “At Stillman, we pride ourselves on providing educational experiences that enable students to transform concepts to practice. Our competitors demonstrated how capable they are of doing just that!”

“The Pirates Pitch contest is our best indication yet of the strong entrepreneurial spirit at Seton Hall University,” said Susan Scherreik, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Stillman School of Business, which organized the event. The Pirates Pitch contest was open to all full-time undergraduate and graduate students. Scherreik noted that students from many academic disciplines participated, including business, biology, chemistry, nursing, education, diplomacy and international relations, English and communication studies.

Contest Background

The contest kicked off in February when students were required to submit proposals for business ideas. A group of independent judges, comprised of successful entrepreneurs, selected the student teams with the best business ideas, as finalists. Next, the finalists, which received individualized advice and mentoring from faculty members, alumni entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs, including the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Board of Advisors, created detailed, 10 to 15 page business plans of their ideas, which were submitted in April. The judges based their decisions on a combination of the written business proposals and the oral presentations by the student teams.

“All of the hard work and planning for the contest paid off,” said first place winner Luciana Contuzzi, who was advised by Stillman School Finance Professor Elven Riley. “The contest was an amazing opportunity for students to make dreams a reality, gain experience as leaders and network with successful entrepreneurs. I encourage any student with a passion for innovation to take on the task next year and to put their ideas to work,” she added.

Second-place winner Eric Casperson, a Stillman School sport management and marketing double major who has also earned the Certificate in Entrepreneurship, explained that his team’s idea grew out of a course assignment to write a business plan. “We will use the funds we were awarded to move our business along in the development process,” he said. More important than the prize money, he stressed, are the business services that the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Board of Advisors will provide to the winning teams. “We have many questions and ideas that we need to consult experts about,” Casperson noted. During the contest, Casperson and his partner, Andrew Gilberti, received advice and mentoring from Stillman School alumnus and entrepreneur Steve Waldis, chairman, president and CEO of Synchronoss Technologies.

Evolution of the Entrepreneurial Studies Program

“The Pirates Pitch program is the next giant step in the evolution of our Entrepreneurial Studies program,” said Tom Basilo, the chair of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Board of Advisors and an adjunct professor in the graduate program in entrepreneurship. “The quality of the business plans and the innovation of the students were quite impressive,” added Basilo, a partner at WithumSmith+Brown.

Basilo noted that the prize money for the Pirates Pitch contest was raised through the funding-raising efforts over the past several years of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies’ Board of Advisors. “I think our donors will agree that the money they have given is being put to good use," he added.

Basilo continued: "I encourage all members of the Seton Hall Community to come to next year's event and see what the Seton Hall students of today are capable of producing. I am extremely proud of the Entrepreneurial Studies Program and the students of our great University."

View the Full Set of Photos on Flickr »

For more information please contact:
Susan Scherreik-Hynes
(973) 275-2251


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