This shark tank-style pitch competition provides five University of Rochester student startups from diverse disciplines and schools with an opportunity to compete in front of a panel of esteemed judges for substantial cash prizes and a Passport from the OneValley (formerly GSVlabs), which offers access to 100+ mentors, hundreds of templates and guides, and $450,000 in free and discounted services.

In light of the pandemic, the event is going virtual in 2020 with selected student teams invited to submit polished video pitches in advance. A synchronous remote event showcasing the videos and teams, followed by a live Q&A with the judges will take place in front of a virtual audience.

2020 Teams

  • Advanced Growing Resources: providing optical solutions in the precision agriculture market, AGR’s first product is a device to aid growers in quick and early crop disease detection.
    • Francis Pellegrino ’22
    • Ryan Balloun ’22
    • Heriniaina Rajaoberison ’22
    • Andrew Thankson ’22
  • Exir Diagnostics: developing a device for multiplex detection of common allergens.
    • Fakhraddin Akbari Dourbash (PhD)
  • HospiPal: an application for patients to communicate asynchronously with hospital staff and access data on insurance and service options, and directories.
    • Deric Toro ’20, ’21 (e5 Scholar)
    • Justin Fargnoli ’22
    • Ethan Sawyer ’22
    • Kenny Newman ’22
    • Prajita Shrestha ’22
  • Photonect: an integrated photonic packaging solutions company that bridges the gap between electronics and integrated photonics.
    • Juniyali Nauriyal ’18 (MS), ’22 (PhD)
    • Sushant Kumar ’24 (PhD)
  • UniM8: a platform that connects high school students with all of the resources they need for the college application process.
    • Ayat Chowdhury ’22
    • Zachary Lee ’21
    • Christopher Sanchez ’23

2019 Teams

  • EZ Water – Kareem Abdelmaqsood ’22; Afnan Ahmed ’21; Sara Anis ’20; Claude Mulini ’22
  • Humans for Education – Jeff Beard ’23M (PhD); Daphne Pariser ’20M (PhD)
  • Prosthesis for a New Syria – Ibrahim Mohammad ’17, ’24 (PhD); Omar Soufan ’17, ’18 (MS)
  • WetWare BioSystems – Andrew Kaseman ’21; Scott McKinney ’21; Bradley Smith ’20

2020 Emcee

Craig Dubitsky ’87
Chief Innovation Strategist, Colgate-Palmolive

Craig earned a BA in economics from the University of Rochester in 1987. While an undergraduate, Craig helped establish the UR Chapter of the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs (now known as CEO, the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization). He also co-founded a dorm-based, late-night eatery called Tellie’s, a student trucking business, and a custom dorm room carpeting business. He currently serves as the Chief Innovation Strategist for Colgate-Palmolive. He is the founder of Hello Products, the fastest growing oral care company and the #2 natural oral care brand in the US. Prior to Hello, Craig was the co-founder of eos Products, the maker of the ubiquitous spherical-shaped lip balm, and a founding investor and board member in Method Products, a leading green household cleaning products brand. Craig is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Babson College.

2020 Judges

Quincy Allen ’93S (MBA)
Founder, Allen Enterprises, Independent Consultant

Quincy earned a BS in electrical engineering from Northeastern University and completed his MBA in 1993 with a concentration in Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester. Quincy is the founder of Allen Enterprises, independent consultant, and serves as a board member of Office Depot. He retired as CMO of IBM Corporation and has worked in the areas of Cloud and Artificial Intelligence. He was previously the CEO of a marketing services company and an executive at Xerox. Quincy has also served as an independent director for Gateway and NCR Corp. Additionally, he is a member of the corporation for Northeastern University. Quincy has been an active member of the University of Rochester’s Parent Council. He has given multiple talks for the Simon Business School, and is currently a prolific and enthusiastic volunteer for the University’s football program.

Brennan Mulcahey ’09, ’11S (MBA)
Partner, 424 Capital
Chair, Ain Center Advisory Council

Brennan is a partner with 424 Capital and enjoys working with teams that are passionate about the impact they can create by taking their business to the next level. He takes stewardship of the companies he works with seriously and is dedicated to helping his portfolio companies develop as organizations. Brennan works closely with the entrepreneurs that 424 Capital backs to build an effective culture for growth and detailed plans to scale rapidly. Currently, Brennan serves on the board of CSS Health and is the Chairman of the Board for Medicus IT, LearnWell, and iTrac. Brennan is Chairman of the advisory committee at the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship and serves on the Newman Advisory board at the University of Rochester. Academically Brennan completed his BA in Financial Economics at the University of Rochester and holds his MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from the Simon School of Business.

Song Pak
General Counsel & CCO, Revolution Growth

Prior to joining Revolution, which was founded by Steve Case of AOL, Song was the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Extend Health, Inc., operator of the country’s largest private Medicare insurance exchange. Prior to that, she served as Corporate Counsel and Compliance Officer for Revolution Health Group (now a part of Everyday Health). Her career has also included private legal practice with the law firm DLA Piper, where she represented a variety of clients including high-technology and companies in the areas of bioscience, software, hardware, and telecommunications as well as venture capital, private equity, and other investment funds. Her practice focused on general corporate and securities law, and included debt and equity offerings, VC and mezzanine financings, M&A, and investment fund formation.

Hawa Sultani ’21S (MBA)
President, Simon School Venture Fund

Hawa earned a BS in neuroscience from University of California, Davis, and is currently a second year MBA student at Simon Business School. Prior to business school, she was a National Institute of Health (NIH) scholar researching treatments in autoimmune diseases and published in notable scientific journals. After several years serving the healthcare industry, Hawa declined an offer to medical school to start her own venture. Hawa scaled a restaurant into a local chain with the mission to hire and educate refugee women within the hospitality industry. While at Simon, Hawa is pursuing a career in venture capital to invest in female and minority founders. She formerly worked at Kapor Capital, a social impact fund based in Oakland, CA. Today, Hawa is the President of the Simon School Venture Fund, a $2M fund that invests in early-stage technology enabled companies.

2019 Emcee

  • John Moran ’89: CEO & CMO, Blue Wave Marketing

2019 Judges

  • Quincy Allen ’93S (MBA): CMO, IBM Corporation
  • Alyssa Carrizales ’20S (MBA): Founder, 10Ray; Managing Director, Simon School Venture Fund
  • Theresa Mazzullo: CEO, Excell Partners, Inc.
  • Brennan Mulcahey ’09, ’11S (MBA): Partner, Brook Venture Partners; Chair, Ain Center Advisory Council

2020 Winner

  • Advanced Growing Resources: providing optical solutions in the precision agriculture market, AGR’s first product is a device to aid growers in quick and early crop disease detection.
    • Francis Pellegrino ’22
    • Ryan Balloun ’22
    • Heriniaina Rajaoberison ’22
    • Andrew Thankson ’22

2019 Winner

  • WetWare BioSystems: an early-stage biotechnology firm dedicated to the research and development of technologies aimed at addressing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the defense and civilian sectors
    • Andrew Kaseman ’21
    • Scott McKinney ’22
    • Bradley Smith ’20, ’21 (e5)
Watch 2020 Event

Upcoming Events

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Contact Heidi Mergenthaler, Program Manager.