Two Seton Hall alumni were recently earned the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies’ Emerging Entrepreneur Award after successfully launching their own businesses since their graduation.
Luciana Contuzzi, who graduated in 2013 as a finance and information technology major, owns Zest, a café serving gluten free and dairy free food. After graduating from Seton Hall, Contuzzi said the 9-to-5 work life was not for her. She opened Zest in March 2017.
Contuzzi said she started eating healthy in high school and Seton Hall completed the puzzle by showing her entrepreneurship was her calling. While at SHU, Contuzzi said she sought the advice of her mentor, Gerald Buccino. “Whatever job I was in, I was always saying I was bored or I wanted more responsibilities, and it’s not that he forced me, but he kind of helped me realize that doing something on my own was what would really make me happy,” Contuzzi said.
Contuzzi said she also participated in the Pirate’s Pitch program during her college career and that if students are thinking about starting their own business, it is a great way to write everything out and paint the picture. Contuzzi also advises that current students start planning for their future while they are in college and that there are a lot of people at SHU to help.
“I love Seton Hall and I tell everyone I went to Seton Hall because the business program there is so great and the mentors there and professors helped me realize that being an entrepreneur was my true calling,” Contuzzi said.
Victor Ricci graduated in 2017 as a marketing major and now owns Trendpie, a digital marketing website that generates app downloads for companies. Ricci said he started his journey while at SHU as a social media influencer with over 1.4 million followers on Vine. He said companies paid him to make video advertisements, but he did not like being in front of the camera, and soon he found himself on trendpie.com.
“The community and support I received at Seton Hall was something that really helped me feel comfortable and feel supported to where I could make these decisions and go out on a limb with some of these ideas,” Ricci said.
Ricci said he started out as a computer science major but realized that was not the path for him. He said he encourages current students to not worry about what “haters” may think of their ideas. “If you believe in it, try it, and eventually other people will see what you’re trying to build and that validation is worth it,” Ricci said.
“Students who are thinking of starting a business should seek constructive feedback on their idea from entrepreneurship professors and successful entrepreneurs,” Susan Scherreik, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies said. “Many new entrepreneurs don’t share their ideas because they fear someone will copy their idea. But ideas themselves are overrated.
“Entrepreneurship is about executing an idea you need advice to help you to figure out how to do that right.”
Veronica Gaspa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.