Michael Panchery and Katie Sidebotham are preparing to resume in-person work sessions for their startup, CliMit, on September 16, 2023.
The Rutgers UPitch Competition 2023: MoneyUp Takes the Crown
By: Scott Rubin
Entrepreneurship is at the heart of Rutgers University's New Brunswick campus, and the institution is proud of its many programs and initiatives that help students with entrepreneurial aspirations. One such program is the yearly Rutgers UPitch Competition, which allows students to showcase their innovative ideas and business plans before a panel of judges.
On February 24, 2023, the Hatchery Innovation Studio at The Alexander Library hosted the Rutgers UPitch Competition as a preliminary round to select one team to represent the university at the statewide UPitchNJ competition. The Prototype Division was judged by Lori Dars, Associate Director of Economic Development and Innovation, NJAES, Mark Deguzman, Manager, New Ventures, as well as Alfred Blake, the Assistant Director of Entrepreneurship at Rutgers. All are involved in entrepreneurship education and support at Rutgers. Judges for the Concept Division were Professor Dunbar Birnie, Corning/Saint Gobain/Malcolm G. McLaren Chair of Materials Science and Engineering; Sasha Taner, Program Director and Research Coordinator with the Rutgers' Institute for Women's Leadership; and Ryan Escolin, Licensing Manager, Innovation Ventures.
The event was an exciting opportunity that brought together some of the most promising young entrepreneurs from the Rutgers community. The competition provided a platform for students to pitch their business ideas to the judges, who would provide feedback and select a winner.
The competing teams were diverse in their ideas and approaches, with many focusing on innovative solutions to pressing social and environmental issues. Some of the ideas presented included Konfide, a website that helps students learn more about what they want to major in college and do post-graduation which was the runner-up of the competition; Samsara, a sustainable fashion company that uses web-3 technology to generate a sustainability score to help educate buyers on the sustainability of their clothes; and SageTech, a virtual reality education platform to help engage K-12 students in the classroom.
The competition had two divisions: the Concept Division and the Prototype Division. The Concept Division was for teams with innovative business ideas that had not yet been developed into a product or service. The Prototype Division was for teams with a working prototype or early-stage product. Both divisions provided valuable opportunities for students to showcase their ideas and receive feedback from experienced judges.
The Winner: MoneyUp
After much deliberation by the judges, the competition’s winner was MoneyUp, a fintech startup created by Rutgers sophomore Alex Simeon that aims to help people, primarily students, save money and invest in their future. The mobile app offers personalized financial advice, budgeting tools, savings plans, and investment opportunities to empower users to take control of their finances and achieve their goals. MoneyUp's mission statement aligns with the growing trend of financial wellness, and the judges saw great potential in the startup.
MoneyUp's success at the Rutgers UPitch Competition 2023 is a promising sign for the team's future prospects at UPitchNJ. Alex is already preparing for the next round of the competition, working on refining his pitch and polishing his marketing strategy. Alex is also looking forward to connecting with other young entrepreneurs from across the state and learning from experienced mentors.
Overall, the Rutgers UPitch Competition 2023 was a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative ideas and receive feedback from experienced judges. As MoneyUp prepares for the statewide UPitchNJ competition, there is no doubt that the team will continue to impress with their innovative approach to financial wellness.
The competition serves as a reminder that college students have a growing interest in entrepreneurship. With the rise of technology and the increasing demand for innovative solutions, more and more students are looking to start their own businesses. Programs like the Innovation Design & Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA), Innovation Lab, I-Corps, and the UPitch Competition provide valuable platforms for these aspiring entrepreneurs to ideate, develop, and showcase their ideas at Rutgers. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for MoneyUp and the other startups that participated in the competition.
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