12th Annual SmartPitch Challenge Gives CUNY Student Entrepreneurs A Creative Outlet for Business Ideas

NEW YORK, NY – March 7, 2014 -Student entrepreneurs throughout the City University of New York (CUNY) are encouraged to sign up for the 12th Annual SmartPitch Challenge, offering a valuable learning experience and $25,000 in prizes.

The Smart Pitch Challenge, created by the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise, gives student entrepreneurs an opportunity to create and validate a business concept, pitch their idea, and follow a business plan to ultimately launch their business. CUNY student entrepreneurs cansign up at smartpitch.org until March 17 to participate in the five-month competition that includes a series of events and workshops that lead up to the SmartPitch Challenge finale on June 5. A list of events and updates can be found on Facebook and their Social Networking Site.


The SmartPitch Challenge is hosted by the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise and theLawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship, located at Baruch College. Throughout the duration of the competition, student entrepreneurs attend co-working sessions that provide a supportive environment to discuss ideas in a community of like-minded students and entrepreneurs. So far, CUNY students who have signed up are finding SmartPitch to be a valuable opportunity to learn how to make their business ideas a reality.

“SmartPitch is giving me information to take me to the next level of starting my own businesss,” said Georgiana Charlemagne, Kingsborough College. “SmartPitch is giving me a platform to prepare in terms of going before investors, so by the time I’m done with SmartPitch, I think I will develop the confidence I need to step out in front of any investor and pitch my idea.”

JeremySzeJEREMY SZE (Baruch College)
BUSINESS IDEA: “Muni Mate,” an app that creates a network of drivers to alert each other to avoid getting parking tickets.

“I would highly recommend for people to sign up for SmartPitch because in this environment, you are doing it yourself. When I come to the Field Center (for the co-working sessions) I feel at ease with people wanting to create stuff and make things happen.




ESTHER LYKES (Baruch College)

BUSINESS IDEA: “Mission Me” (working title), redefining what it means to be a girl through web series videos and experiment kits.

“SmartPitch is giving me the opportunity to grow a business without the pressures of doing it on my own without a network of people. This is a safe space to explore what I want to create for a business. The co-working sessions are giving me a chance to learn the process of starting a business.”




RYAN SAHADEO (Long Island University)

BUSINESS IDEA: “Zepher Unlimited, LLC,” a medical application for hosting research for retinopathy of prematurity

“I thought [SmartPitch] was a great opportunity to reach out and promote my business even further. SmartPitch offers the chance to have students break out of their bubble. A lot of people have a fear about starting their own company because they’re worried about failure. If you don’t put yourself out there, no one is going to take you seriously no matter how hard you try. I recommend [SmartPitch] to any student that has a business, any student that’s interested in starting a business, or partnering up with someone, or just wanting to get exposure or networking. SmartPitch is the way to go.”

ANGELA AngelaMontanezMONTANEZ (Hunter College)

BUSINESS IDEA: “Door 24 Agency,” a wellness communications agency focusing on nutrition, fitness and spirituality

“I am very passionate about my business and what I want to accomplish, and [participating in SmartPitch] really makes me feel connected. I feel like the people who are attending the co-working sessions are really serious about their business ideas and their projects, so I feel I’m in good company. I hope to refine my business idea…gain some good contacts, good networks and maybe some long-term friendships out of this experience.”



JACOB BACANER (Baruch College)
BUSINESS IDEA: “yourpocketresume.com,” an app to automate searches for student internships.This is my first time in SmartPitch. It’s nice to have some structure and some competition. I can create what I’m thinking about for a business and bring it to market and see if it can make it fly.




The Verizon Foundation, the competition’s new sponsor, is providing a $60,000 grant to support this year’s SmartPitch Challenge, including $25,000 in prizes for the top five teams. Verizon is also offering mentors to provide infrastructure, marketing, and general business management support to the teams.

The best teams will be invited to present their concepts at the SmartPitch Challenge finale on June 5 and compete for $25,000 in prizes. The 1st Place team receives $10,000; 2nd Place receives $7,500 and 3rd Place receives $5,000, Most Innovative receives $1,500, and Audience Favorite receives $1,000. The top five winning teams will be selected to participate in a virtual business incubator ending with the launch of their concepts. The incubator includes: entrepreneurship boot camp, incubator space, expert IBM mentorships, access to the entrepreneurship network in virtual and real space, and access to stipends and angel investors. The winners will also present their new businesses in the fall, 2014 and be recognized as IVE Fellows in a continuing support network.

The CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise (IVE) was a pioneer when it launched a social networking platform to provide virtual mentoring and resources for student entrepreneurs in 2007. During the SmartPitch Challenge, this platform will serve as the virtual coworking space to engage mentors, ask experts and find peer support. In addition, there will be a series of face-to-face support events, workshops, and roundtables leading to the SmartPitch Challenge competition on June 5, where student entrepreneurs will make their presentations “pitches” and compete against other U.S. universities and colleges.

Press release originally posted on Baruch College Press Page March 7, 2014