$26K Awarded at Annual Fairfield StartUp Showcase

$26K Awarded at Annual Fairfield StartUp Showcase

RinkLink pitching to the investor panel.

Charlie Brodigan ’24, of audience favorite RinkLink, pitching to the investor panel.

Team RinkLink Voted Audience Favorite by Viewers 

Last week, the Fairfield University community celebrated student entrepreneurship at the 2021 StartUp Showcase. The seven-part Showcase video series documented each of the five Showcase teams’ journeys as they developed their business ideas, worked with mentors, and made their pitches to a panel of investors for seed money. The public was asked to watch the pitch videos and vote for the Audience Favorite. With 2,500 video views, the online format for the Showcase proved to once again be a success.

Returning to this year’s StartUp Showcase investor panel were Joseph (Joe) Bronson ’70, principal and CEO of The Bronson Group, LLC, and Dagan Kasavana ’99, founder and CEO of Phoenix Tower International. Bronson and Kasavana were joined by Virginia P’an, founder and CEO of YUMI EcoSolutions, Inc. Showcase veteran Michael Garvey ’89, P'23,'25 served as StartUp Advisor to the five Showcase teams.

The following is a recap of each team’s pitch and feedback from the investor panel:

John Cain ’22 pitched for team EarnSpace, a Zoom plug-in and web app that allows for the integration of advertisements into conference calls in order to reach broader audiences in an increasingly virtual world.

P’an emphasized the importance of testing user acceptance of the ads so they don’t distract from the content of the Zoom conference.

“There is no doubt that there will be advertising on these platforms,” said Kasavana. “The fact that you are being thoughtful about the solution is fantastic and I have no doubt you will have success if you stick with it.”

EarnSpace was awarded $6,000 by the investor panel.

Representing team The Point, an online fashion and lifestyle magazine, Eleanor Davis ’21 pitched Point of View, a customizable collage kit to help people decorate their wall space.

Kasavana stressed the importance of not trying to do everything at once. “You have a head start to make this something great. Focus on having the best [online magazine] content and that should lead you to opportunities for monetizing down the road.”

The panel recommended that Davis and her team consider a name change for The Point that would have more of a media focus and to consider other business models that would generate more revenue and more integration between the media concept and physical products.

The Point was awarded $3,000 by the investor panel.

Charlie Brodigan ’24 pitched for team RinkLink, a service designed to automate the ice rink industry with yield management to improve rink financial outcomes and facilitate member communication.

Bronson recognized the potential for RinkLink because it’s an underserved market. “My advice is to do a pilot with some rinks in your area, and if that works, the opportunity to scale could be tremendous.”

P’an recommended that the team finish conducting market research and develop a beta site. Kasavana suggested reaching out to rinks through a mail campaign and both Kasavana and Bronson noted that this type of service is highly successful in the golf market.

RinkLink was awarded $10,000 by the investor panel and received an additional $1,000 for being voted Audience Favorite by viewers.

Fairfield University StartUp Showcase Zoom session with all team contestants, moderator (professors), and judges

Huntley and Bronson with members of the 2021 StartUp Showcase teams and the investor panel.

Kristen Oliger ’22 pitched for team Kindler, a stress-free solution for college students to meet new people and make friends through an app that matches them with other students who have the same passions and hobbies. The app is also designed to be a tool for colleges and universities to retain incoming first-year students over the summer by giving them a way to forge friendships before they start school.

Bronson and the investor panel agreed that Kindler has a lot of promise, especially if they can get one university such as Fairfield on board to help with the admission process. Bronson stressed that Kindler should move forward with the execution plan to pilot the app since there is a low barrier to entry.

“Things are getting a lot more competitive these days for colleges,” said Bronson. “Your ideas are spot-on and if you have a way of measuring the value, that ability alone with the pilot can create a very effective admissions tool.”

Kindler was awarded $3,000 by the investor panel.

Vilia Baumilas ’21 pitched for team WePlay Together, an app that uses a logarithm to match people who share similar interests, passions, and ideas with others to show their locations and available meeting times to enjoy sports, hobbies, and more. The idea is to start with local parks and rec departments and to scale from there.

Kasavana recommended focusing the idea and identifying who pays for what while developing the app as a next step, and P’an recommended that the team focus its target market.

“For a small fee on a recurring revenue people would pay for the ability to socialize and come together,” said Bronson.

WePlay Together was awarded $3,000 by the investor panel.

Director of the Fairfield StartUp Program Chris Huntley, PhD, closed the Showcase by congratulating the teams for their hard work and dedication.

“What you saw was the culmination of a whole year of effort,” said Dr. Huntley. “There is a lot of work after the initial talk with the investor and that’s what happens next. We look forward to hearing more from the teams.”

Each team has been invited to participate in the Fairfield University Entrepreneurship Laboratory (FUEL) Summer Fellows Program.  

Interested in seeing all of the pitches and investor feedback? Visit fairfield.edu/startup to watch the Showcase video series.

Tags:  Dolan School,  Top Stories


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