Cody Laska, Sophomore, Stillman School of Business Gerald P. Buccino '63 Center for Leadership Development, and Sophomore, Ryan Skolnick, Stillman School of Business Gerald P. Buccino '63 Center for Leadership Development holds up check for $1,000.
Sophomore Ryan Skolnick represented Seton Hall University in the first ever statewide collegiate business model competition and came home with a win. Skoknick, who competed against student teams from universities throughout the state, was awarded the 2nd place prize for AVEHO, which aims to teach students foreign languages in a video-game format. The first place prize went to Princeton University for BoxPower, a business idea involving providing Indian reservations with portable, inexpensive diesel engines where traditional energy sources are scarce. Montclair State University’s team snagged the third place prize for Karuda, a business idea to develop a new line of natural cosmetics.
The contest gave students an opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurial skills before a panel of judges with diverse business backgrounds in return for cash prizes and business services. Skolnick will receive $1,000 and business services, and a coaching breakfast with Mario Casabona, founder and managing director, TechLaunch, New Jersey’s Investor-led technology and business accelerator.
The top three finalists will also receive a generous $2,500 scholarship to Draper University’s Summer Program, founded by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, Draper University was recently featured on the ABC Family Series StartupU.
The competition was sponsored by the New Jersey Collegiate Entrepreneurship Consortium, which represents the entrepreneurship education programs at New Jersey's four-year colleges and universities. Teams from 11 universities competed in the inaugural competition: Drew University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rider University, Rutgers University, Saint Peter's University, Seton Hall University, Stevens Institute of Technology and William Paterson University. The event's supporters included WithumSmith+Brown, the New Jersey Technology Council, TechLaunch, the New Jersey Business Innovation Network and Draper University.
Students were judged by serial entrepreneur and astronaut Greg Olsen; Caren Franzini, formerly with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; Betty Manetta of Argent Associates and Seton Hall University Regent; Anthony Frasier of The Phat Startup; and Marty Johnson of Isles, Inc.
“We are very proud of Ryan Skolnick for representing Seton Hall University in UPitchNJ,” said Susan Scherreik, founding director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Stillman School of Business and Chair of the UPitchNJ Planning Committee. The prime aim of the competition, she added, “Is to showcase the terrific entrepreneurship on our college campuses and provide our students with a forum that will help increase their odds of success.” Scherreik continued: “We see UPitchNJ as a network for students to meet each other, make new friends and sow the seeds for future business collaborations.”
Skolnick is a member of the Stillman School of Business' Gerald P. Buccino ’63 Center for Leadership Development, and is majoring in management, marketing and information technology. He studied six foreign languages in elementary and high school, and named his business Aveho for the Latin word meaning "to carry" a language with you. He previously won $6,000 as the first place winner in Pirates Pitch last year. Skolnick was interviewed on WCBS Radio 880's CEO Radio program.
“The Stillman School provides an environment in which talented students like Ryan can flourish,” said Joyce Strawser, Dean of the Stillman School of Business. “Through his involvement with our Leadership Development Program and Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Ryan received the encouragement and mentoring that helped him succeed. I’m delighted to see that he is ‘paying it forward’ by giving other students the opportunity to work with AVEHO. Ryan’s achievement in UPitchNJ demonstrates that Stillman students can compete with the very best aspiring entrepreneurs. We are thrilled for Ryan, and we look forward to his future achievements.”