Students Pitch Business Ideas to Local Sharks in Annual Entrepreneurship Competition

Hard work. Innovation. Charisma. These characteristics wer4e what it took for Saint Peter’s University students to pitch their business ideas to “sharks” at the 5th annual Shark Tank Entrepreneurship Competition earlier this month. The event was sponsored by the Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University, &CO Coworking and The Center for Leadership, Engagement and Wellness.

With support from the Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University, student entrepreneurs who were selected for the Shark Tank competition participated in a bootcamp series to strengthen their business concepts. Students were mentored by Katrina llanes, counsel at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP; Carlos M. Gutierrez Jr., founder and CEO of Highline Point Group, LLC.; Raymond Butkus, M.B.A., lecturer of business administration at Saint Peter’s University; Marta Michelle Colón, founder of Buena Gente; and Robert M. Donnelly, M.B.A., adjunct professor of graduate business at Saint Peter’s University. At the bootcamp workshops, students learned about an array of topics including branding and public speaking. They also discussed how to manage finances and legal issues.

Training from the bootcamps prepared the students to approach the competition with confidence. The business presentations included Nous les Gens presented by Maceline Ambroise ’22 and Ripunjay Singh ’21; Quick-Present presented by Conor O’Keeffe ’22; Let’s Eat presented by Barbara Hernandez ’21 and Anthony Crincoli ’21; County Films presented by Reyhan Lalaoui ’19; Pasta Bowl presented by Jordi Valado ’19; Bluetooth Smart Translator presented by Leandis Cedeno ’21 and Adrista Ramirez ’21; BigEats Lifestyle presented by Jah’Fear Toler ’19; The Night Firm presented by Joshua Padilla ’19 and Nicolas Sadek ’21; CA Transformer Glasses presented by Carlos Aldama ’21; and Eileen’s Sitting Service presented by Eileen Torres ’19. The companies ranged from a build-your-own pasta fast food restaurant to a company that provided legal and financial services after working hours.

The pitches were scrutinized by the sharks, James Sullivan, founder and CEO of 17 Web Dev; Carlos Gutierrez, CEO of Highline Point Group, LLC.; Marta Michelle Colón, founder of Buena Gente; Paul Silverman, co-founder of SILVERMAN; and Daryl Delgaizo Levy ’83, director of employer relations at Saint Peter’s University Center for Career Engagement and Experiential Learning (CEEL). After each pitch, the judges pressed the entrepreneurs in a two minute Q&A in which they asked about recognized competitors and plans to raise future funds among other challenging topics.

“Give our voices a chance,” said first place winner Lalaoui. Her company, County Films, focuses on local, young and diverse talent. “I gave every penny of my savings for this project,” she added.

Torres came in second with her business, Eileen’s Sitting Service, which provides care service for domestic and exotic animals. Aldama won the audience choice award and Toler received the social impact award.

“Shark Tank gave me the fortunate opportunity to be courageous and present my business. I take pride in my business and was so delighted to have fellow entrepreneurs see its potential,” Torres said.