Last Thursday sees The Pitch in its sixth year
Dartmouth community members had the opportunity to showcase their business savvy and creativity last Thursday. Now in its sixth year, The Pitch, an entrepreneurship competition, was held on Feb. 21 in Filene Auditorium, attracting around 100 audience members. Twelve teams each delivered two-minute presentations to a panel of judges, which was comprised of two representatives each from the DALI Lab and the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship. Any Dartmouth-affiliated individual — undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff — is eligible to participate in The Pitch.
After each team presented, the judges asked one question and selected one question from audience members, who were able to electronically submit questions during the presentation. Following the presentations, audience members used paper ballots to vote on the Best Pitch. The judges then tallied the ballots to determine the winner of the Best Pitch Prize, as well as deliberated on the winners of the Startup Prize and the Build Prize.
The Best Pitch Prize winner receives a $1,000 grant. The Startup Prize provides a $1,000 grant and mentorship from the Magnuson Center, and the Build Prize provides the team $8,000 in funding fordevelopment and design assistance from DALI for one term.
“The spirit of The Pitch is less about, ‘Is it a good business idea?’ and more about, ‘Is it unique, is it innovative, does it solve a real problem?’” said DALI faculty director and co-founder Lorie Loeb.
Chloe Baker ’21 and Maggie Deppe-Walker ’21 won the Startup Prize for SanStraw, a reusable straw that is fully sealable but can be unrolled for washing and drying. The goal of SanStraw is to solve the problem of reusable straws being hard to clean and dry, according to Baker and Deppe-Walker’s pitch.
“I’m really excited,” Baker said. “With the award, I think that we are going to be looking at making a final prototype so we can move Sanstraw towards the final manufacturing stage.”
Taggart Bonham ’20 and Eitan Darwish ’21 won the Build Prize for “Relm,” an app that aims to redesign the Center for Professional Development’s online platform. During their pitch, Bonham and Darwish explained how the CPD’s current website is difficult to navigate. Relm will improve the website’s user interface and functionality through features such as reminders of when to send a follow-up email to recruiters. The app will also use data-driven software and artificial intelligence to help users decide, for example, what words in an email’s subject-line are most likely to interest an employer.
Finally, Anders Bando-Hess ’19, Chris Bertasi ’19, Isaac Gluck ‘19, Emma Kennelly ’19 and Robert Livaudais ’19 won the Best Pitch Prize for Tassel, an online platform that will allow professors to refer their best students to recruiters. The team explained in their pitch that “professors know great students [and] now recruiters will too.”
In their pitch, the team added that “tech recruiting is a pain,” in part because “recruiting platforms put quantity [of submitted applications] over quality.” Recruiters who find students on “Tassel” can be sure that each student on the website is of guaranteed quality.
“We really came here as a step in our growth towards actually building a product,” Gluck said. “We have already built the platform and are really hoping to use this funding to continue growing and expanding and hopefully go somewhere.”
All three teams will have the opportunity to meet with Annie Ren, the Magnuson Center, program manager for startup support. Ren said that she works with startups at all different stages of the journey, from people with just an initial idea to those with a final product that needs to be marketed.
“We assess their needs and then work from there,” Ren said.
According to DALI developer and The Pitch student coordinator Adam Rinehouse ’19, the 12 teams that got to pitch their ideas were selected from a larger group of applicants. The initial application to participate in the event included a description of the project and how the team would use each prize if they received it.
Based on the teams’ answers, the four judges and The Pitch coordinators from DALI and the Magnuson Center decided which teams would get the opportunity to present.
“Sometimes you get similar ideas, but with the particular 12 that we took, there’s a pretty good amount of diversity within the ideas,” Rinehouse said. “It’s really cool to see all the different ideas that people on campus have.”
According to Loeb, the Pitch began in 2014 to help “jump start innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.”
The first Pitch event included 32 teams in which there were three winners who received help from DALI to build their projects. Over the years, the Magnuson Center became a co-sponsor and a selection process was instated to narrow down the candidate pool.
“It’s been fun watching how every year the pitches get a little bit better,” DALI director and co-founder Tim Tregubov said. “People are thinking more outside the box, coming up with pretty cool stuff.”
Since 2014, The Pitch has become more interactive and engaging for attendees, with components such as soliciting questions from the audience.
“We’re very career-focused at Dartmouth,” Tregubov said. “Hopefully The Pitch brings some fun and innovation to the campus and shows people that being your own boss could be an option.”