Student entrepreneurs ‘launch’ new business ideas at competition

December 10, 2021

Students holding $3,000 check prize and taking group photo

It came down to a battle of six teams who were competing for thousands of dollars worth of start-up funds for their business propositions on Tuesday in the Rocky Top Student Center. The Quinnipiac Launchpad Competition was the culmination of 14 weeks of vigorous work by students in the School of Business and School of Communications.

During the first two weeks, students pitched their ideas and skill sets to each other before forming teams and started to develop their business plans. They then submitted their plans to the first round of judges. The top six teams moved onto the competition; the bottom two teams presented to the audience for smaller monetary prizes. 

Each team was allowed seven minutes to present their business plans to the judges — which included President Judy Olian, School of Business Dean Holly Raider, Oscar Ginz '17, Bill Platt '78, a member of the Quinnipiac Board of Trustees, and Professor Rich Hanley — followed by three minutes of Q&A from the judges and one minute of questions from the audience. 

“When we look into the future and we ask, ‘What is the university of the future, and what do our students need to thrive in their careers and in their lives,’ it is the kind of preparation that you’ll see demonstrated live in our student pitches,” said Raider. “Our university-wide ecosystem is dedicated to fueling innovation and entrepreneurship. Wherever you are, whether you are a parent, alum, or student, you should find us online at our Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and join us for these events.” 

Hylite NFT earned the top spot – and a check for $3,000 – to help start up their virtual sports card business.

The team recognized that traditional physical sports cards are easily damaged and can lose their value from creases, discoloration and folds.

“We came up with the idea to digitize collectible cards, featuring immersive and imaginative ideas,” said Quinn Dallai ‘23. “They display players in ways that have never been seen before. And the best thing about our cards is that they create meaningful connections between our fans and players alike.”

Rather than partnering with a school or university, Hylite NFT will work with and share revenue directly with athletes.

Omari Battle ‘23 further explained, “The NIL just passed a new rule giving D-I athletes a chance to profit off of their name and likeness and this is a new innovative way to do so.”

Working with a graphic designer, Hylite NFT will create, market and sell the non-fungible tokens.

“We give the athletes a platform that they would never have on their own, especially the type of athletes that we’re targeting, who may be a bit below the radar,” said Dallai. “We’re looking to market them as a brand within our own brand.”

The runner-up was CampusCars, a business that ensures students will get home safely. In all, seven teams walked away with funding — ranging from $250 to $3,000.

CampusCars was started by Jess Halley ‘23 and Tess Rose ‘22. They stress that safety is a primary area for concern in the ride sharing industry, followed by costs and damaging emissions to the environment. After surveying 1,200 students, it was clear that 89% of respondents would feel more comfortable being driven by a peer student than an Uber or Lyft.

The plan is to start with a fleet of five electric cars, which will be available as a ride driven by a Quinnipiac student. Another option is a car being available for rent for students who wish to drive home for the weekend.

“Drivers will be screened by the DMV,” said Halley. “In terms of keeping our riders safe, once they’re in the vehicle, there will be a throttle restrictor, which permanently limits the speed of the vehicle, cameras and breathalyzers.”

They expect a profit margin of 38% with one car at a university, making $38,000 in the first year. In contrast, a five-car fleet would bring in $190,000 in the first year. They were awarded $2,000 toward their new business.

There was a four-way tie for the audience favorite: 

  • Refashion - Kallie Purdue ‘23 

  • Bomboniera - Allessia Scaturchio ‘23 

  • Baked by Jess - Jess Ferraiolo ‘23 and Sam Lachance ‘23 

  • CampusCars 

Watch the full event

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