Inspired entrepreneurs statewide will have the opportunity to experience the reality of the reality television show “Shark Tank” at New Jersey’s own UPitchNJ competition on April 15.
Students from 12 universities in New Jersey, including Seton Hall, will pitch their ideas at the business model competition held from 1p.m. to 5p.m. at Rutgers University Business School in Piscataway, N.J. Awards include cash prizes and coaching sessions with top entrepreneurs.
Seton Hall sophomore Ryan Skolnick, first place winner at Seton Hall’s 2015 Pirate Pitch Competition will represent Seton Hall at UPitchNJ with his pitch. Skolnick won Pirate Pitch in 2015 for Aveho Learning, a video game to teach foreign languages.
“My love of languages, and my dream of bettering the world through language, was the inspiration for Aveho,” Skolnick said in an email interview.
The New Jersey Collegiate Entrepreneurship Consortium will sponsor this first-time event as a panel of top entrepreneurs judge the competition.
The judges, according to the SHU website, consist of astronaut and entrepreneur Greg Olsen; Caren Franzini, formerly with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; Betty Manetta, president and CEO of Argent Associates and SHU Regent; Anthony Frasier of The Phat Startup; and Marty Johnson of Isles, Inc.
According to Susan Scherreik, founding director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Stillman School of Business, it is crucial to give young entrepreneurs a chance to make a difference.
“We wanted to give our students another platform for more exposure to other investors,” Scherreik said. “We also are calling attention to all the innovation being done in New Jersey because we are always getting overlooked due to us being wedged in between two major cities, NYC and Philadelphia.”
Skolnick said, “The best part of the statewide competition is the potential for investors to be in the audience. Since it is a much larger competition, investors may be hanging around which can benefit all of us.”
The first place winner at UPitchNJ will receive $2,500 for their business while the runner-up and the second runner-up will receive $1,000 and $500. All of the winners will also receive coaching luncheons with top entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs are becoming younger and younger and we would like to recognize them in the community,” Scherreik said. “I’m excited to celebrate entrepreneurs and to see their innovative skills put forth.”
Sedria Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org