On Wednesday, December 4, Purchase College, SUNY and its partner Ethos took a page from reality television when they presented their own Startup Pitching Competition, modeled on the popular ABC show Shark Tank.
Now in its third year, the competition gave students the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to entrepreneurs and investors. New City resident Andres Hernandez-Rodriguez, who is studying liberal arts studies at Purchase College, was one of the finalists.
The contest is part of the Startup Purchase program, which was initiated and underwritten by the Dr. E. Lawrence Deckinger Family Foundation and its Executive Director, Nancy Deckinger and spearheaded by Assistant Professor of Economics Liya Palagashvili. The contest is the culmination of a popular course entitled “Entrepreneurship and Finance: Turning Ideas into Startups,” which was taught by Professor Palagashvili and Vadim Revzin, an entrepreneur-in-residence with Ethos
The judges and audience determined the winners who received a grant of up to $6,000 for their business pursuits. This year’s grand prize went to sophomores Andres Hernandez- Rodriguez (a liberal arts studies major from New City, New York) and Brian Farez (an undeclared major from East Hampton, New York) for their on-site mobile car washing and detailing service company, Tri-State Mobile Wash. The duo was awarded $5,000 for their idea.
Second place went to seniors Nyla Lawlor (a communications major from Manhattan, New York) and Finbar Stuart (an economics and journalism major from Woodstock, New York) for SPABOX, a monthly subscription service offering curated organic and luxurious bath products. The project received $1,000.
“It’s so incredible that our Purchase students can have this opportunity to take the entrepreneurship course and to have the resources, mentorship, and seed capital to bring their ideas into fruition,” said Assistant Professor Palagashvili.
Andres Hernandez-Rodriguez said, “I’m happy that the Purchase faculty supports upcoming entrepreneurs. I’m thankful we won, but more importantly I’m thankful for all the support we have received along the way, from our peers and our school. We look forward to spending the money wisely and watching our company grow in the process.”
Ms. Deckinger hopes her donations help start many new businesses. She said, “I want to be a catalyst for students starting their professional lives.”
The “sharks” were a diverse group of entrepreneurs who provided invaluable feedback after each student presentation. Among them were:
Tricia Brouk, Executive Producer at Speakers Who Dare and TedX Speaker
Jeff Dachis, Founder and CEO, One Drop; former Chairman, CEO, Razorfish, and 1988 alum of Purchase College
Andreas Messis, Co-founder transFORM Home, and 1994 alum of Purchase College
Sacred Walker, CEO & Founder, Kuumba Health Institute
The winners of the first year’s competition were economics majors Maxwell Pearce ’18 and Derick Ansah ’17 who founded Flynance, a startup organization that helps young athletes navigate the complex world of collegiate and professional sports while learning basic pocketbook economics. Pearce, who was senior captain of the men’s basketball team at Purchase, is now playing professionally with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Last year’s grand prize went to economics and arts management seniors Angela Galli and Kelly Hayes for their Receipt to Recipe pitch, which is a mobile application designed to decrease global food waste and overuse of resources. The app will take a photo of a grocery store receipt and generate recipes from the internet based on the selected items and individual customer profile preferences.