A recent student idea competition dubbed “Pitch It!” brought out Binghamton’s brightest business visionaries who competed for a cut of $4000. The event was hosted by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships, as well as the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator, and supported by the Entrepreneur Connect club. The competition was designed for those with an entrepreneurial idea, or existing business, who could benefit from funding and additional resources to advance their venture.
Judges included: Matt Gill, an alumnus who developed a virtual reality training company out of the Koffman Incubator; Fabiola Moreno, a technology transfer licensing assistant and director of Binghamton’s National Science Foundation I-Corps program; and lastly, Adam Sabol, the Koffman’s first graduate who started Key Branding Labs, a marketing and social media firm based in downtown Binghamton.
The competition was fierce, with a diverse array of ideas being presented. Presenters used slide decks to describe 1) a problem 2) their idea and 3) how that idea solves the problem. Some ideas were backed by a prototype, while others were purely conceptual. A handful of participants had participated in hackathons, programs, or classes where they were able to conduct customer discovery around their idea and refine it with feedback in mind.
This strong showing made deliberation difficult for the judges, but in the end, three came out on top.
In third place was Ben Gaviola, a winner of last year’s Pitch It! competition for his sustainable electric turbine. This go-round, Gaviola presented a concept for a service that discreetly and conveniently provided drug testing kits to help reduce the use of unsafe/tainted narcotics.
In second was Lucas Kreuger who presented Kreuger Educational Services. Kreuger had some business experience underfoot having run a tutoring service in high school. With knowledge of this industry, he is looking to expand by building out a website and hiring tutors to work for his business. His winnings will be used for the website as well as initial advertising campaigns to attract regional customers.
First prize was claimed by Joseph Babbitt, a junior computer science major who pitched his app Düit. Frustrated with disorganized and disconnected software that punctuated student life, Babbitt has been developing an open-source toolset that integrates the apps we use daily into one convenient platform. The open-source component of Düit allows community developers to add to it and act quickly on user input.
“I entered the competition really on a whim as an exercise to gain more experience pitching, not something naturally in my wheelhouse as a CS major,” says Babbitt. “I also thought the competition would give me a much-needed push to really kick the project into gear, something I definitely plan on doing now that I’ve secured this funding.”
Babbit plans to use his winnings to upgrade his development hardware capabilities, potentially buy some prototype server hardware to ensure compatibility, or obtain resources to one-up his design and UX skills.
All participants and attendees were encouraged to consider the other resources offered by Binghamton’s Office of Entrepreneurship including its free businesses accelerator program, or I-Corps program.
Congratulations to all the participants and winners, including two ventures who claimed the sustainability prize and student choice award, listed below. Learn more about programs for student start-ups here, and get involved with entrepreneurship on campus through the EC club.
1st place – Joseph Babbitt, Duit – $1,500
2nd place – Lucas Krueger – Krueger Educational Services – $1,000
3rd place – Ben Gaviola – Drug Test Kit – $500
Sustainability award – Adam Malev, Flip for Good – $500
Student choice award – Thomas Miller, Forma – $500