Ten high school entrepreneurs committed to launching their own start up or receiving
support for fledgling businesses will compete as finalists in Seton Hall University’s
ninth annual Pirates Pitch for High School Students competition, hosted by the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Stillman School of Business from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, November 17, in Jubilee Hall Auditorium. This tournament
also celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week activities taking place around the world from Nov. 13-19.
These future business leaders have successfully submitted original business proposals
describing an innovative product or service in 350 words or less. The students next
face off in an in-person “Shark Tank” style competition, after passing their first
hurdle against 170 young entrepreneurs from 18 U.S. states as well as Canada, Germany,
Nigeria, India, and Singapore, to qualify for more than $50,000 in prizes and tuition
scholarships. They will convey their startup ideas in five-minute presentations to
an independent judging panel of faculty members and successful alumni.
The University community and the public are invited to watch these pitches and cheer
for their favorite contestant at the event on campus. For those who cannot attend
in person, the event will be livestreamed here. All viewers will be invited to cast a vote to select the Audience Choice Award.
The contest will include a five-minute Q&A session and all finalists will receive
valuable feedback from the judges.
“I am always so impressed by the talent and business savvy demonstrated by our pitch
contestants. I’ve also enjoyed, over the years, watching several of the contestants
thrive in their studies and their business ventures. It’s wonderful to see so many
young people taking advantage of this opportunity to build their skills and refine
their startup concepts,” said Joyce A. Strawser, Ph.D., Dean, Stillman School of Business.
This year’s projects are wide-ranging, with many geared to innovative ways that students
are using their creativity and talent to help improve the world through sustainability,
diversity, caring for the environment, and pathways to global engagement. The projects
include harnessing AI for a physical therapy solution, a car-pooling app to get young
fans to concerts, a centralized digital platform to assist middle school and high
school students in finding internships, a method to recycle technology, and a fair-pricing
app to assist coffee farmers in Guatemala.
“Our participants gain valuable business experience and receive entrepreneurial advice
from our judging panel so they can become nimble innovators and change-makers in today’s
complex business climate,” said Susan Scherreik, M.B.A., founding director of the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Stillman
School of Business.
Scherreik pointed to a recent survey by Junior Achievement USA that indicated that
three in five American teens, approximately 60 percent, would be more interested in
starting their own business than having a traditional job. She noted that those who
practice entrepreneurship in high school and college get a head start on learning
how to make their startup dreams a reality.
This year’s prominent judging panel includes Stillman business faculty and alumni
entrepreneurs: Elizabeth McCrea, Ph.D., associate professor of management and entrepreneurship; Sunny Bathla ’00/MBA ’15, senior vice-president and chief growth officer, Sonata Software, and
founder, OSB Co., Alissa Lopez, M.B.A. ’19, founder and CEO of the Family Balance Planner, product marketing manager,
PulsePoint, and a first-place winner in the Seton Hall collegiate Pirates Pitch competition,
and Victor Gomez, ’17, manager of Seton Hall Esports, an accomplished alumnus who has been instrumental
to the founding, creation, and growth of the University’s Gaming Sector club and the
current esports program at Seton Hall, two-time BIG EAST League of Legends Champions
and two-time Rocket League Champions.
Seton Hall University’s popular teen startup competition takes place during the third
week in November to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), which spotlights
the millions of people around the globe who are unleashing their ideas to start and
scale new businesses. This year, GEW will sponsor 40,000 events and activities in
All qualifying finalists will receive at least $4,000 in tuition scholarships to attend
Seton Hall. The top finalist will receive a $2,500 cash award and a $10,000 tuition
scholarship. The second-place winner will receive a $1,000 cash award and a $6,000
scholarship. The Audience Choice Award winner will receive $300.
The Pirates Pitch Competition for High School Students helps to develop and showcase
entrepreneurial skills that align with the World Economic Forum’s list of the top
skills that professionals need to thrive, including complex problem-solving, critical
thinking, and emotional intelligence. The competition also introduces students to
the Stillman School of Business, its Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and
the nationally ranked Center for Leadership Development within the Buccino Leadership Institute.
This year’s finalists include:
- Matthew Choi, a senior from Fort Lee, NJ, attending Fort Lee High School
Startup Idea: Tech Cycle
- Jonathan De Caro, a junior from Moodus, CT, attending CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering
Startup Idea: Fair Price Information Network
- Rafae Flores, a senior from Carlstadt, NJ, attending Don Bosco Preparatory High School
Startup Idea: EKOS
- Nicole Freiler, a senior from Park Ridge, NJ, attending Park Ridge High School
Startup Idea: Tidy Brush
- Gauri Kshettry, a junior from Edison, NJ, attending Edison High School
Startup Idea: TheraPose
- Julia Livolsi, a senior from Glen Rock, NJ, attending Glen Rock High School
Startup Idea: Bliss Bars
- Rachel Mokoko, a sophomore from Jersey City, NJ, attending McNair Academic High School
Startup Idea: MERCS
- Kushagra Sadwal, a junior from Princeton Junction, NJ, attending West Windsor-Plainsboro High School
Startup Idea: Mr. MD
- Akshaya Venkatesh, a senior from Chester Springs, PA, attending Downington STEM Academy
Startup Idea: Ethnic Clothing Tailoring
- Kevin Zhang, a sophomore from Annandale, NJ, attending North Hunterdon High School
Startup Idea: Aetherstar