“I didn’t think it would be me,” Exclaimed Lambert Egbuchulam, as it was announced he had won the $1200 first prize in the “Pitch It!” competition. Hosted by Binghamton University’s Office of Entrepreneurship and the Koffman Incubator, the event brought together a score of innovators looking to gain funding and support for their ideas. A dozen entrepreneurs had three minutes each to explain to a panel of alumni judges why they deserved the prize.
Unique to this competition was the lack of a formal presentation. No slides were allowed, requiring participants to have a thorough knowledge of their idea, conveying it in full to those on the Zoom call. Ideas were wide-ranging in their scope, from apps to hardware. During each pitch, three judges with prior experience founding companies took notes and derived scores based on elements such as scalability, market opportunity and more.
“Having the opportunity to pitch your idea at events like this can be the stepping stone to starting a business for students which could greatly change their lives and careers.” Said Matt Gill, Binghamton Alumni and founder of Enhance VR located at the Koffman Incubator in downtown Binghamton.
Additional support for the event came from the Entrepreneur Connect club. The student club is new to the Binghamton University campus and focuses on forging beneficial connections amongst innovators looking to start a company or join an existing team. The club has close ties to the Koffman Incubator, leveraging space, mentors and programs to give members a head-start on their journey into starting a business.
The competition was fierce with many good ideas going head to head. After the pitching, judges left into a breakout room to discuss their final decision while participants had a chance to hear from Nick Pellegrino, a student finding success in the world of tabletop games with his card game “As Good As It Gets”, which has reached more than 400% of its initial goal on Kickstarter.
First prize went to Lambert Egbuchulam for his app which intends to better connect businesses with people. He intends to use the money to launch it into the marketplace and is gaining additional support through the Koffman’s Accelerator program.
“The event was great. Hearing and learning from the others pitching at the event is a growth experience.” Said Egbuchulam.
Second prize went to Andrea Russo for his AI web-platform use to more accurately diagnose ailments.
Third went to Benjamin Gaviola for his in-stream hydroelectric turbine, which also won the $200 sustainability award sponsored by the Southern Tier Clean Energy Incubator. This prize went to the idea which was seen as best for the environment.
” The event inspired me to further my own development and reach out to fellow creators.” Said Gaviola.
Winners each get a copy of the “As Good As It Gets” game along with business support equal to a dollar amount — $250 for third, $500 for second, and $1200 for first. A “menu” of sorts outlined what winners could spend money on in relation to their business. Incorporation, inventory, branding and a website were some of the options chosen to accelerate business growth.
All participants were welcomed to gain further support for their ideas through the student club and the Koffman Incubator. Programs are available to students and community members alike to kickstart their ideas.