Fairfield University's Startup Day had a fever pitch


Image: DSB Startup winnerStudent teams had just a few minutes to pitch their ideas for new apps, products and services at Startup Day, part of the heated build-up to Fairfield University's 3rd Annual Business Plan Competition (fairfield.edu/businessplan). Attracting undergraduates from all over campus, the competition was launched by Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business to meet a growing interest in entrepreneurship among students.

A team of judges - comprised of business leaders and Fairfield University faculty members - decided the winners at the fast paced event on November 16 when participants vied for $2,000 in prize money.

The best overall pitch and $1,000 went to Robert Garrone, a senior in the School of Engineering from the Town of Islip on Long Island, New York. He presented plans for a wearable wireless device that uses infrared light to monitor bone density. "We hope to market it toward osteoporosis patients as an alternative to hospital visits with specialists," said the electrical engineering major.

Garrone, who worked on the pitch with Dolan School of Business seniors Ralph Belfiore and Bernardo Navarro, is developing the device with classmates Stephanie Sutherby, Michael Raymond and Joseph Musubire for the School of Engineering's Senior Design course. Faculty Shahrokh Etemad, Ph.D., and Ryan Munden, Ph.D., are serving as mentors.

Image: DSB Startup runner upJennifer Le, Gina Biondi, of West Haven, Conn., and Rema Bhatti won the runner-up prize and received $500 for a pitch for BuddiedUp, their business idea to revolutionize the scope of social, platonic meet-ups. The three bring different backgrounds to the project: Le is an English major, with a double minor in Marketing and Biology. Biondi is a double major in Accounting and Information Systems with a minor in Accounting Information System. Bhatti is studying electrical engineering.

"In a new city, it is very hard to find time to make a great group of friends," said Le. "BuddiedUp aims to help link young professionals to small social meet-ups based on common interests, geographical location, and personal preferences."

An additional runner-up prize and $500 went to a pitch for a baseball-related product. The students behind the idea are Eric Ashworth, a junior in the Dolan School of Business, Anthony DiMauro, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, Stephanie Chui and Brett Mikolajczylc.

The finals for the university-wide Business Plan Competition will be held April 15, 2014 when teams will contend for prizes and sponsorships totaling $20,000. There are two tracks: a 'Venture Track' for new businesses with a profit focus, and 'Social Track' for new organizations with a social mission. The competition has been an opportunity for students to develop their ideas with entrepreneurs, business leaders, and faculty. Chris Huntley, Ph.D., associate professor of information systems & operations management, and Mukesh Sud, Ph.D., associate professor of management, are competition co-directors.

Images: 1) (L-R) Donald E. Gibson, Ph.D., dean of Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business, left, with Startup Day winner Robert Garrone, a senior in the School of Engineering (center, in white shirt). Photo includes other student competitors and Mentor Coordinator David Murray, vice president, Integrated Sales and Marketing, NCM Media Networks. 2) Gina Biondi, Jennifer Le, and Rema Bhatti won a runner-up prize for their pitch for 'BuddiedUp.'

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 21, 2013

Vol. 46, No. 128