Student Entrepreneurs Pitch Business Ideas at Ninth Annual Gator Social Venture Challenge

Members of the first-place Limuli Farms Team, left to right: Kiah Boudreau ’15, William Schroer ’15, Jeremy Pallant ’18, Timothy Cornett ’16 and Jennifer Glen ’15

by Tamara Minns

May 5, 2015 – Twenty-six teams of Allegheny College and Grove City College student entrepreneurs participated in a two-day business “idea pitch” competition on Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25 at Allegheny College.

Allegheny’s Gator Social Venture Challenge, hosted by the Department of Economics and a part of their managerial track programming, is designed to provide students with community-based experiential learning opportunities envisioned by the Allegheny Gateway, as well as opportunities to present their ideas to highly successful professionals in their fields and networking opportunities with Allegheny alumni and friends of the college.

Preliminary round judging took place on Friday, April 24 with all teams pitching to a panel of judges their ideas for either a new social venture or improvement of an existing social venture. Nine student team finalists advanced to Saturday’s championship round.

For new social ventures, first place and $1,000 in prize money were awarded to the Limuli Farms team from Allegheny College: Kiah Boudreau, Timothy Cornett, Jennifer Glen, Jeremy Pallant and William Schroer.

Second place and $750 in prize money were awarded to the Kinbox team from Grove City College: Andrea Howe, Jordan Jensen and Karolina Lagerquist.

Third place and $500 in prize money were awarded to the Lunch Time team from Grove City College: Ashley Henderson, Haley Nerlich and Taylor Stein.

In addition, an Honorable Mention and $300 in prize money were awarded to the Wheel House team from Grove City College: Elisabeth O’Brien and Hannah Vaccaro.

For the improvement of an existing social venture, first place and $1,000 in prize money were awarded to the Market House Authority team from Allegheny College: Ryan Cambier, Robert Pickett and Matt Tilley.

Second place and $750 in prize money were awarded to the Community Care Network team from Allegheny College: Andrew Hotchkiss, Liam McNamee and Mary Nagel.

Third place and $500 in prize money were awarded to the Special Olympics of Crawford County team from Allegheny College: Lucas Morton, Hannah Russell and Walter Stover.

There was a two-way tie for honorable mention, with each team receiving $300 in prize money. Aaron Donahoe, Mark Egan and Taesha Foster of Allegheny College presented ErieDAWN. Brett Barrett, Ashley Keenen and Nikola Matic of Allegheny College presented United Community Independence Programs (UCIP).

Students on winning teams received trophies.

Judges were Chris Alan Daverse, Allegheny Class of 1988, senior consultant, business development and government affairs, Semiconductor Research Corporation; John Golden, associate professor of economics at Allegheny College; Don Goldstein, professor of economics at Allegheny College; Geoffrey Gund, president, George Gund Foundation; JoAnn Pacinelli, Allegheny Class of 1982, president of ECapital Exchange LLC, Pittsburgh; Michael Piraino, Allegheny Class of 1974, chief executive officer, National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA); Henry Robin, general partner and managing director, Invesco Private Capital; Jonathan Spencer, Allegheny Class of 1979, president, New Horizons House; and Lance Zingale, Allegheny Class of 1977, executive vice president and general manager, major markets, Sykes Enterprises, Inc., Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Allegheny Gateway provides a means for faculty, students, staff and community partners to put classroom learning into practice. It includes experiential learning, engaged/applied learning, undergraduate research, engagement with difference and diversity, and connecting Allegheny education to careers and life after graduation.