The business owners who are featured on the popular TV show “Shark Tank” have nothing on Seton Hall University’s budding entrepreneurs. That was clear earlier than month when Seton Hall University held its 12th annual Pirates Pitch Startup Contest, sponsored by the Stillman School of Business’ Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
At the event, six student entrepreneurs pitched their business startup ideas to a panel of judges, and each earned a share of $16,000 of seed funding. In addition, all finalists will receive pro bono legal counsel from OGC Solutions® | Santomassimo Davis LLP, which provides clients with access to a fully outsourced virtual legal department of 16 lawyers with deep expertise that spans the gamut.
Meet the six finalists:
- Elias Burgos, a sophomore studying sport management, presented EB Sports Management, a sports agency that represents professional and collegiate athletes.
- Lauren Huff, who is pursuing a M.S. in business analytics, pitched Entice Engine, an idea for a business forward application for store-based retailers that would boost sales by determining the optimal products to promote to individual customers.
- Alvin Mitchell, a senior economics major, presented Jiffy Technologies, an idea for a local shipping service that would deliver general household items to consumers within a 150 to 200 distance in just a few hours.
- Jae S. Morris, a senior double majoring in biology and social & behavioral sciences, pitched Back 2 Roots, a business that provides the black community with an assortment of natural hair products that promote overall hair health and length retention.
- Henrik Pettersson, a sophomore studying biology and philosophy, introduced Shōbai Global (“Show & Buy”), an internet marketplace for the fashion industry.
- Jonathan Soyka, an M.B.A. student who previously served in the Army as an engineer, pitched Air Garden Inc., a startup that employs high pressure aeroponics to grow healthy food in a more sustainable and affordable way.
Soyka took home the largest amount of seed money, $10,000, for his business, while Morris was awarded $5,000 for her business plan. She also earned an additional $5,000 as the winner of the audience choice award.
Susan Scherreik, founding director of the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Stillman School of Business, said all the finalists were thrilled to also earn the opportunity to receive pro bono counsel from the team at OGC Solutions® | Santomassimo Davis LLP. “One of the trickiest areas for aspiring entrepreneurs is navigating the legal issues” that come with starting a business, says Scherreik. “It is extremely important that new entrepreneurs think carefully about selecting the right business legal structure and also take steps to properly protect their business name and safeguard their intellectual property.
“If beginning entrepreneurs don’t ensure that their startup is legally sound, they can eventually encounter costly problems,” she adds. Scherreik says that the Stillman School of Business is grateful for the law firm’s support, not only with the Pirates Pitch competition, but by providing regular guest speakers at the college. “OGC Solutions® partners Chris Santomassimo and Anthony Davis and their staff are outstanding attorneys and superlative servant leaders, and we are very grateful for their assistance to our students,” she says.
OCG Solutions®’ Davis says the law firm is always impressed with the caliber of students his team works with from the university. “Judging from this year’s Pirates Pitch event, the entrepreneurial spirit is clearly thriving at Seton Hall University,” he says. “It’s always refreshing to work with these bright, ambitious students, and we wouldn’t miss the opportunity for the world. We’re thrilled to be able to guide them on their journey with sound legal advice in every aspect of their business.”