Student entrepreneurs inspire

Annual Pitch Your Passion competition features student entrepreneurs

December 3, 2019
Ashley DeLeon '23

The winner of the 2019 Pitch your Passion was Francesca D’Elia ’20, above seen presenting remotely on a screen from New York City where she was at an event related to her jewelry business.

The power of ideas is guided by one’s drive to execute them. Recently a handful of young entrepreneurs at Saint Michael’s College presented an array of ideas that they hope will leave a positive imprint on society.  One student’s already promising startup company centered on selling handmade jewelry won this year’s “Pitch Your Passion” competition, in which students present their business models to faculty judges.

This year’s Pitch Your Passion took place on Sunday, November 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the McCarthy Arts Center. After hearing students’ business pitches, judges selected three candidates to win monetary prizes ranging up to $600. The funds are allocated to the students for the purpose of investment in the companies they propose in the competition. The students, studying a variety of majors spanning from business to neuroscience, presented business models with statistical data of projected growth, budgeting, and targeted success rates.

The event began with a presentation from the eventual winner, Francesca D’Elia ’20, a senior entrepreneur and owner of Homegrown Jewelry, a startup company centered upon selling handmade jewelry. D’Elia presented her model via video chat, as she had traveled to New York City for the weekend for an exposition of her jewelry. She discussed her entrepreneurial growth over the span of 6 years, noting that her growth stemmed from selling homemade, quality jewelry. D’Elia provided the judges with statistics of her steady revenue growth over the past three years, and the judges were impressed with the growth she had maintained. D’Elia’s long-term goal is to open a small jewelry shop in Vermont. D’Elia said that if she were to win, the earnings would lead her to invest in a website, email server, and analytic tracking system. In addition, she said, “It will allow me to interact with my customers more directly instead of marketplace style websites.” Next, D’Elia plans on investing in higher quality materials in a manner that will maintain her profit.

Rachel Prescott ’20

The next presenter, Rachel Prescott ’20 (photo at left), took the opportunity as a college student to cater her business toward her peers. The student created a business model, Gemini Graphic Shop, as a means of creating customized decor for college dormitories that span beyond generic brands. Posters are sold in many sizes including 11×17, 16×20, 18×24, and digital images. In addition, the Gemini Graphic Shop has received a wide range of customers spanning from students at the University of Delaware to students at the University of Vermont. With a current revenue of $478, the company is projected to grow steadily as its interest from clubs and sororities is on the rise.

Following Prescott was a unique pitch from Phillip Stamp ’20 (photo below right), a student with a passion for cost efficiency in the boating industry. As the CEO of Stamp Bros Boat Distributors, Stamp and his brother plan to increase the prevalence of aluminum boats in the United States. He argued that the high costs of mainstream fishing boats are inconsistent with quality, and that lightweight boats with durability and low costs would benefit consumers. Inspired by the prototypes and successes of aluminum boats in Australia, Stamp hopes to spearhead a boating company that will be a boon for buyers in the U.S.

Sunday cleaning is a common trend among students, and a pair who recognized this demand presented an opportunity to profit from it. Brendan Locke and Matt Costanza, the spearheads of Bags Cleaning Service, have constructed a plan for a company that will clean townhouses on Sunday mornings to alleviate the burden on students. The pair presented a plan for balancing the finances and costs associated with this, and attempted to maintain lower costs on consumers. They projected costs of $250 for cleaning equipment, $200 for a website, and an overall consumer charge ranging from $25 to $35 dollars per townhouse. In the future, the pair plans on creating a platform with an Uber-like service that will connect college campuses and outside communities alike.

Finally, Caitlyn Jackson ’23, the pioneer of Advocators and Navigators (large photo above the headline), recognized that children are afflicted with chronic illnesses more than ever before. This comes as a result of toxin exposure, lack of exercise and sleep, stress, and poor dietary habits. Therefore, she presented an educational program aimed towards educating young students about overall health and preventable measures to avoid diseases. She said that one-third of chronic illnesses are preventable, yet the number of children born with chronic illnesses has doubled in the last decade. Jackson aims to make a difference in the lives of many young students and potentially shield them from health complications later in life.

At the end of the presentation series, the judges implemented a 30-minute intermission to deliberate about each contestant. At the end of the deliberation period, the hosts and judges thanked everyone for their attendance and support of “Pitch Your Passion.” Although the judges were impressed by the quality of each entry, only three contestants were awarded a prize.

Third place was awarded to Phillip Stamp of Stamp Bros Boat Distributors. Stamp was called to the stage to receive his certificate of achievement, and his reaction presented an aura of gratitude and happiness. He was surrounded by much applause from the audience. Following Stamp, with the second place prize, was Caitlyn Jackson of Advocators and Navigators. As she walked onto the stage, Jackson’s happiness emanated across the arena, as she, too, said she was filled with gratitude for this opportunity. Finally, the first place prize was awarded to D’Elia, CEO of Homegrown Jewelry. The judges stated that they based their decision on the stability of her profits and projected success for her startup company. D’Elia said she plans on using her winnings to invest in more resources to aid in the launch of her jewelry shop.

Each contestant in the Pitch Your Passion competition embodied one common theme: That any idea could be put into practice with determination and innovation. Possessing these qualities, the young entrepreneurs continue to serve as motivation to the Saint Michael’s College community with their examples that with self-confidence and a consistent work ethic, one and all can achieve what they put their minds to.

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