Caption: John Isola ’19 is at left in group photo above the headline showing all the competitors from the February competition on campus; directly above, Isola pitches his idea for “Spark” to the judges in the Dion Center Feb. 22
February 22 was cold but sunny as about 50 people gathered in the Dion Family Student Center Roy Room to hear students from four Vermont colleges and universities pitch business ideas in the fourth annual LaunchVT Collegiate competition.
At stake was a $3,000 first prize and $1,000 second prize. Students presented their proposals for startup businesses to a panel of judges consisting of local executives and entrepreneurship educators.
John Antonucci, Executive Director, moderated the event. The panel of judges included:
- Scott Gale, Fluency founding member and VP of Engineering
- Bonnie Reese, entrepreneur and business development strategist
To start off the competition, Professor Robert Letovsky of the Saint Michael’s Business Administration and Accounting faculty addressed the audience with a brief discussion on “entrepreneurship.” “Entrepreneur,” Letovsky said, stems from the French meaning to undertake. He said that people pursuing entrepreneurship, such as the students in the day’s competition, never stop moving forward. “They are doers. They see a different way to solve a problem or solve a need, and they get up and assemble the resources needed to move forward,” Letovsky said. He concluded with advice on resilience: “Essentially the ability to pick yourself up after a setback is one of the most important traits of an entrepreneur.”
John Isola, representing Saint Michael’s College, pitched “Spark”: a fire log made from recycled coffee grounds (sourced from local coffee shops), soy wax and molasses. In addition to providing a renewable resource for outdoor enthusiasts, Isola’s idea would help local coffee houses become more sustainable. He worked with Professor Letovsky during the early part of Spring semester to develop his pitch, projected sales, target markets, and distribution channels. Isola was the winner of the Saint Michael’s College 2018-19 Pitch Your Passion competition held last November 2018.
Also attending the event from the Saint Michael’s Business Administration and Accounting faculty were Steve Doyon, Paul Olsen, and Karen Popovich. Here are the results of the Friday competition on campus:
1st place – University of Vermont - Recovery Robe
Max Muller, Grayson Glosser, Sevda Beridze, Ross Elkort
Recovery Robe is a novel redesign of the age-old hospital gown that has plagued patients and medical professionals for generations. The Recovery Robe is easier to put on, and unlike traditional gowns, it preserves patients’ dignity, provides accessibility for hospital staff, and reduces risk of infection and injury.
2nd place - Middlebury - Loveland Armaments
Loveland Foam Armaments designs, builds, and sells foam dart blasters for adults that combine the convenience and safety of Nerf guns with the excitement of paintball. From this competitor’s pitch: “Our team is committed to creating high-performance blasters that are ready to use out of the box -- without modification or hassle. It’s time to play like a kid again!”