The first pitch: Undergrads try to overwhelm judges with their business proposals

NJBIZ - April 25, 2016

One was a series of coconut oil-based beauty products.

Another was a video game platform for teaching foreign languages.

Then there was SpaceFinder, which creator David Van Vugt wants to take to rural areas to help more people find parking.

What do all of these innovative ideas have in common? They all came from New Jersey college students.

The ideas were just three of 12 presented at the first UPitchNJ, a statewide collegiate business model competition held recently at the new Rutgers Business School building on the college’s Livingston campus. The event was hosted by the New Jersey Collegiate Entrepreneurship Consortium, a collection of entrepreneurship educators for the higher education institutions throughout the state. Susan Scherreik, founding director of the Seton Hall University Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, said just having the event was a victory for the state. “Over the past 18 months, we — the members of the New Jersey Collegiate Entrepreneurship Consortium — have accomplished something that has never been accomplished before,” she said. “Coming from the most diverse backgrounds, public and private universities of all shapes and sizes, (we) have worked collectively with one goal in mind: to showcase the terrific entrepreneurship on our college campuses.”

A common thread that ran through many of the businesses presented by students was not just an understanding of technical trends, but also social ones. All Me Ads from Rider University, for instance, was based on a recognition of short attention spans of young users of social media, whose memory for advertisements were described as goldfish-like. “There is a lack of attention in traditional advertising on social media,” All Me Ads founder Andrew Gordon said. “If you ask somebody 30 seconds into the YouTube clip they’re watching what they can remember from the 10-second ad clip before it, they’ll probably just tell you they hit the ‘skip’ button.”All Me Ads from Rider University, for instance, was based on a recognition of short attention spans of young users of social media, whose memory for advertisements were described as goldfish-like. “There is a lack of attention in traditional advertising on social media,” All Me Ads founder Andrew Gordon said. “If you ask somebody 30 seconds into the YouTube clip they’re watching what they can remember from the 10-second ad clip before it, they’ll probably just tell you they hit the ‘skip’ button.”

Safe Halo, the student company presented by Rutgers University, looked to address the growing concern over campus assault by connecting users to sober, reliable “Halos” that can be at a location on campus within six minutes when needed.

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