By Andrew Aguilera,
Stillman News Editor
Promising entrepreneurs from around the nation gathered recently at Seton Hall to present their business ideas to an independent judging panel comprised of alumni entrepreneurs and faculty members. What made this gathering so fascinating was the 10 finalists, from a pool of more than 250 from 25 states as well as six foreign countries, were teenagers participating in the second annual High School Pirates Pitch competition.
“We are so impressed by the stupendous response the contest received from entrepreneurial teens all over the world. The high school students who participated in our competition dream big and have the passion to pursue their dreams,” said Susan Scherreik, founding director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Stillman School of Business.
Based on the Center’s highly successful College Pirate Pitch Competition, the event was geared to teaching high school students entrepreneurship basics and idea generation as well as recognizing and rewarding students with outstanding entrepreneurial know-how. All finalists received a $4,000 scholarship to attend Seton Hall University; honorable mentions received a $50 Amazon Gift Card; second place received a $1,000 cash prize and a $6,000 University scholarship; and the first place winner received $2,500 and a $10,000 Seton Hall University scholarship. Finalists and their families were invited to a special business networking and advice reception with successful entrepreneurs.
“Today’s young people are the entrepreneurial generation, both on the college and high school levels. We have found that the younger students are when they get involved in entrepreneurship, the better prepared they will be for the future. We have a terrific entrepreneurship program at Seton Hall, and we wanted to bring it to high school students and give them a taste of a college startup competition,” Scherreik said.
Scherreik added, “Bringing these entrepreneurs to college also exposes them to the number one business leadership program in the country.”
Samantha Green, a sophomore from Park Ridge, came in first place. Her business idea, “Quick Cage,” is for a new design for a hamster cage that enables users to clean the cage in a few minutes compared to the 30 minutes its now takes.
Green said, “My Quick Cage started as just an idea in business class and because of this competition, I am able to take a step forward in creating my own patented product.”
She added, “The competition helped me develop the skills to put any business venture forward including the Quick Cage. I learned a lot from being surrounded by other students who share the same desire of building businesses and gained great advice about my product from the judges.”
In second place was Jack Jameson, a senior from Manhattan. His news website, NY Sports Hub, employs more than 70 teens as sports writers to cover professional sports. http://www.nysportshub.com
Jameson said, “I am so glad that I competed in the Pirates Pitch Competition. It was brilliantly organized and allowed for me to hear feedback on my business from professionals in the field and fellow young entrepreneurs.”
He added, “I am so happy that I was accepted into the five year MBA program at the Stillman School of Business. I recommend the competition for those who already have a business and those who have a business idea. It was truly a wonderful experience.”
Three finalists received Honorable Mention. Caitlin Shannon, from Tampa, Florida, runs a social entrepreneurship business, Sparkle Power, that helps pediatric cancer patients.
Rebecca Zerbo, from Boca Raton, Florida, founded a non-profit, Positive Pocket, Inc., which helps middle-school and high school students counter the negative effects of bullying.
Madison Scott, from Bloomsbury, New Jersey, is an artist who sells her designs for use on Iphone cases, cards and adult coloring books.
Finalists also included: Petar Aziz, a junior from Lodi, NJ whose business idea is a website an app that would be called Immigrant Help Provider, to provide wide variety of practical information to new immigrants in the U.S.
Ethan Nicolas Leveque, a sophomore from Edgewater, NJ whose business idea, The Wakeanator, is for a novel idea for an alarm clock that looks like a floor mat that you must get out of bed and stand on.
Nathan Giordani, a senior from West Chester, PA whose business idea, Pocket Fridge would be an app that helps you more efficiently shop at the grocery store and suggests new recipes by tracking what’s in your refrigerator.
Ryan Davis, a senior from Williamstown, NJ whose business idea, “Communication Glove” would allow hospitalized patient with limited speech communication to communication simply by forming letters in the air. The sensors in the glove display these words and letters on a screen.
Jenny Cho, a senior from Edgewater, N.J. whose business idea, iShare, is a product that would transfer battery power from one IPhone to another to allow a phone to recharge when you don’t have a recharger handy.
The Judging Panel included: Pamela Adams, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Stillman School, Department of Management, Earlene Cruz ’14, Founder, The Kitchen Connection; Dennis Jamiolkowski, ’74, Distinguished Research Fellow, Ethicon, Inc.; Vijar Kohli, ’11, Founder, Golden Door Asset Management and Richard McMahon, ’87, Former Chairman/Vice-Chairman, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Founder and CEO, Ventures LLC, and also, member, Seton Hall University Board of Regents.
McMahon reflected on his experience as a judge saying, “I enjoyed participating and being a judge. This is a great program and I was truly impressed with the poise and skills of the presenters.”
The annual Seton Hall University Pirates Pitch competition will kick off in January 2017.
To find out more information about information sessions and deadlines, please visit http://www.shu.edu/go/piratespitch. The competition offers $10,000 in prizes.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 13th print edition.
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