The Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny College will hold its Annual Zingale Big Idea Competition April 26–27 in Quigley Hall on the Allegheny campus. The funding-request presentation contest emulates the experiences seen on the popular ABC and CNBC broadcast “Shark Tank.” The public is invited to attend the final round of presentations on Saturday, April 27, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by the final award ceremony at 2:30 p.m.
Students will present entrepreneurial concepts with the chance to receive funding through cash prizes. The ideas must fit into one of four areas: For-profit Business, Not-for-profit Social Venture, Research Project, or Community Engagement Initiative. Students work in teams and design 20-minute presentations for their ideas, which they present at the competition.
The first-place team will receive a $5,000 cash prize. In total, $10,000 in prizes and trophies will be awarded, with the first-, second- and third-place teams receiving trophies, monetary prizes and honorable mentions.
Some Allegheny students have repurposed their Junior Seminar or Senior Comp projects, or have taken the Economics of Entrepreneurship II class, to prepare for this competition. This year, there are 26 teams of one to three students each. Nineteen of the teams are from Allegheny, and teams from Grove City College, James Madison University and Westminster College also plan to participate.
Allegheny senior Natalia Buczek is returning to the competition this year after winning a $1,000 “Next Big Idea” award last year for the proposal showing the most promise for further development. Buczek’s big idea is Aid Memoir, a smartphone app to assist people with memory loss or verbal impairments.
Buczek said that Chris Allison, entrepreneur in residence in the Allegheny Economics Department, advised students preparing for the competition to think of ideas that would help ease the daily struggles of people. Buczek thought of the challenges faced by her father, who was diagnosed with a form of dementia, and how he often would write in a notepad to help remember information.
Buczek initially sought to make that notetaking process easier but soon expanded her vision. The app will not only allow individuals to record important information but also help caregivers by providing instructions, such as their clients’ preferences and schedules.
“For me, this doesn’t just stop at the competition,” Buczek said. “I see this becoming a useful app in the medical world.”
A studio art major and psychology minor, Buczek said she didn’t have any background in business prior to last year’s Zingale Big Idea Competition. “The whole experience has really taught me how passionate I am about the business world,” she said.
Buczek added that she is looking forward to showing the judges the progress she has made during the past year. She is working with Chris Miller, a fellow Allegheny student, to develop the app. Allison also has helped Buczek arrange meetings with medical professionals who have provided valuable feedback on her plans.
Allison and Sarah Holt are co-coordinators of the Zingale Big Idea Competition, which was renamed in 2017 in honor of 1977 Allegheny graduate Lance Zingale and his wife, Karen. The Zingales made a gift to establish a $500,000 endowed fund supporting the Center for Business and Economics. Lance Zingale has served as a judge at the competition for the last five years and is a member of the center’s Board of Visitors.
This year’s competition will be judged by a panel of 14 accomplished professionals, 10 of whom are Allegheny alumni. For more information about the Zingale Big Idea Competition, visit the Center for Business and Economics website.