November 06, 2017, BY Beth Kaszuba

A collage of student entrepreneurs.
Five of the six Bucknell BizPitch '17 final teams pose at the preliminary round. Top row, left to right, are Salvage and Pop-on-Market. Bottom row, left to right, are Next Generation Storage, BU Bite and Shoulder Savior. Photos by Gray Deuber '19

This year's BizPitch competition features bigger prizes, an emphasis on social responsibility and, for the first time, a majority of female student entrepreneurs who will present in the final round.

A preliminary round, held Monday, Oct. 23, winnowed the field of competitors from 14 to six teams, whose members will pitch a variety of products and services they've developed to a panel of judges at the BizPitch '17 finals, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 5:30 p.m. in the Elaine Langone Center. The Shark Tank-style competition, which rewards the best student pitches with cash prizes, is directed by Bucknell's Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The event is open to the public.

"The BizPitch '17 finalists range from community-service platforms to retail venues, and from consumer goods to food service," said Steven Stumbris, SBDC director. "They exemplify the diversity of interests and talents of Bucknellians."

The finalists, who will compete for a top prize of $3,000, will pitch the following concepts and products:

  • Pop-on-Market — A downtown storefront that would allow brands to offer products for limited "pop-up" periods of time.
  • BU Bite — An application that would connect Bucknell students to independent drivers willing to deliver food from local restaurants.
  • Reachout — A community-service platform that would match volunteers to nonprofits and causes.
  • Salvage — A business that would offer high-fashion restyling and repurposing of unused garments.
  • Next Generation Storage — A platform that would connect people who need to store items with individuals who have extra storage space.
  • Shoulder Savior — A comfort accessory for people who transport heavy sports equipment or other gear.

"Winning the money would enable me to invest back into my business," said Millo Lazarczyk '21, a markets, innovation & design and theatre major, who designed and already sells the Shoulder Savior product. "I'm confident, but a little nervous about going into the final round," he added. "There's a lot at stake, and a lot of preparation that goes into this."

Andrew Jobling '18, a markets, innovation & design major, said his team, which developed Reachout, took the social-responsibility focus of this year's competition seriously. "It was important for us to feel like we were doing something positive and not just making money," he said.

BizPitch ’17 finalist Reachout developed a platform to match volunteers with nonprofits. The team includes, left to right, Josh Popkin ’18, Nicole Snyder ’20, Andrew Jobling ’18, all majoring in markets, innovation & design; and Luke Hartman ’20, an undeclared management major. Photo by Gray Deuber '19

Along with the first-place check, prizes will be awarded to two runners-up, Stumbris said. In addition, students can vie for a Social Media Star award by promoting their pitches on social platforms. Another prize, Fan Favorite, is based on audience voting during the final event, which will be streamed live on the SBDC Facebook page.

A preliminary Facebook Live event, to be held Monday, Nov. 13, at 4 p.m. on the University Facebook page, will offer viewers a peek into the teams' final preparations, with help from the SBDC staff.

"Along with showcasing some tremendous student talent, this year's BizPitch gives audience members and others the opportunity to engage with Bucknell's entrepreneurs using social media, especially on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter," Stumbris said, adding that the event's hashtag is #BizPitch17. "I look forward to a lively evening with our students, who've worked hard to craft pitches for an inspiring array of innovative products and services."

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