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Communications and Marketing

Three student businesses win big in first Pitch It contest

Three student businesses earned top prizes and more than $10,000 in seed money during the final round of the College’s Shark Tank-style Pitch It contest held on April 19.

The 240-member strong audience clapped and cheered as Charles Black ’16 was announced as the first-place prize winner in the inaugural competition. As the top winner, Black received a check for $750 and a $7,000 investment in his company, Trade Defender, from the Lake Forest College Entrepreneurship Advisory Council. Trade Defender provides financial market data, analytics, and powerful charting for traders. Black created the business with Jacob Gilman ’17.

Robbie Barker ’16 received second place and a prize of $500. The judges also made a $2,000 investment in Go Brush, Barker’s business idea for cleaning teeth while on the go.

Kristina Simeunovic ’16, the only female in the final round of competition, won third place, which carried a $250 prize, and an additional $1,000 in seed money for her company, Wellnex, care packages of alternative medication and health products delivered as gifts to loved ones. 

The enthusiastic crowd peaked at 240 in the John and Nancy Hughes Theater at the Gorton Community Center, where emcee Dean DeBiase created an open-forum atmosphere, encouraging cheering, picture-taking, and live tweeting.

During the 90-minute event, each student-entrepreneur was allotted five minutes to deliver their best pitch to the six judges seated at a long table on stage. Each student-entrepreneur stayed in the spotlight for another five minutes answering judges questions. 

When the eight presentations were complete, the judges huddled on stage while audience members had the opportunity to ask their own questions of the student-entrepreneurs.  

Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program Darlene Jaffke thanked the dozens of student-entrepreneurs who applied for the College’s first Shark Tank-style event, the judges who vetted the businesses throughout the months-long process, and the eight student businesses that made it to the final round. 

The other finalists were: 

  • The Pizza Station: Fast, customizable 9-inch pizzas served in five to seven minutes. — Dariusz Baliczek ’16
  •  Image One: A business-to-business commercial cleaning service. — Anthony Conn ’17

  • LifeMap: A smartphone app that crowd-sources real-time data for user’s to monitor the wait time at their favorite places. — Austin Gais ’17
  • Food Fill Distribution: An online marketplace for restaurants to replenish their inventory same day or next day. — Matt McPherson ’17
  • PARASAFE: Single-use personal emergency parachutes for commercial or residential buildings above 100 feet tall. — Keil Zornow ’16

Click here to view the videotape of the final round of competition.