Students Present Cutting-Edge Ideas at Innovation Challenge
The winning team took home $4,500 in prize money to help launch its startup.
In what has become an annual ritual, Manhattan College students impressed a panel of judges with their creative thinking, skilled presentation and thorough business plans in this year’s O’Malley School of Business Innovation Challenge.
“This signature event features students from across campus bringing their best ideas for successful startups,” said Donald Gibson, Ph.D., dean of the O’Malley School of Business, “Presenting before these entrepreneur judges and potential investors is definitely a stressful ‘Shark Tank’ experience.”
The winning team included O’Malley School of Business student Kelly Cwik ’23 and engineering students Shawn Abraham ’21, Alex Castro ’21 and Steven Palacios ’21, who introduced their startup, i-adapt. The team’s goal is to create a prosthetic device, accompanied by attachments that adapt to any recreational activity, allowing those who suffer from limb loss to participate in athletics despite their disability. The team received the first prize of $4,000 and an extra $500 for being named the audience favorite.
Second place and a $2,500 prize went to the team of Apparent, which included Theresa Donlon ’23, Celine Lewandowski ’23, and Caroline Voigt ’22. Apparent provides weekly communications with actionable data based on analytics and industry insights, to help small companies succeed in a big company world.
Receiving third place and a $1,500 prize was Omnia, started by O’Malley School of Business students Joe DeMauro ’23 and John Maziarz ’22. Omnia is an e-commerce platform designed to give the user a unique clothing buying experience. The team’s goal is to use the app's swipe-based design, coupled with its direct seller-to-buyer purchasing process, to make Omnia the next big thing in online fashion.
The teams had six minutes to present their startup idea to a panel of judges, then the judges had six minutes to ask questions to the presenters and provide feedback.
The judges included Samiul Amin, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical engineering at Manhattan College; Vincent Buffa ’86, CEO and chairman of Micross Components and an operating partner at Behman Capital; Samhita A. P. Jayanti, the founder and CEO of entrepreneurship-focused startup Ideamix; Mike Kelly ’80, managing partner of Yellow Thread Ventures; Frank Pietrantonio ’80, Senior Counsel at Cooley, LLC and Julia Sutton ’90, co-founder and chief operating officer of Exhale Enterprises.
The judges rated each team based on a set of criteria including: value proposition; marketing and customers; economics, including the revenue and cost structure; organization and leadership; and the effectiveness of presentation in terms of clarity and passion.