Written by Brandon Black:

Wentworth’s finest minds were on display at the Fall 2019 Pitch Round December 4th in which 9 Startup Challenge teams pitched their business ideas to a panel of 4 judges. The reward for the night was funding of up to $10,000.00 which could be rewarded to any teams the judges felt deserving. At the end of the night, 3 of the 9 teams were funded. However, through the judges’ feedback, each team gained valuable pointers moving forward.

The 4 judges consisted of experienced professionals with diverse backgrounds: Peter Drakulich, the cofounder of 52Launch, helping people with ideas get to market; Howard Horner, computer programming and web development teacher at Boston Public Schools with over 16 years of education consultant experience; Eli MacLaren, the former chief market maker, leading Business Innovation Factory’s development efforts, responsible for the startup and scale of the Experience Labs; Michael Mozill, Associate Professor of Business Management with an MBA from Babson College and over 30 years of hands-on entrepreneurial experience.

The teams were given 5 minutes to pitch their ideas with an additional 5 minutes for questions from the judges. Being a judge provided Michael Mozill a front row seat to dissect each pitch. He explains, “after a series of interesting presentations, the task of judging them was difficult.  Each project had enough substance to merit consideration. The three projects selected for funding  (Cranial Care, Watch the Krown Co., and Truss Technologies. Inc.) were the best position to move their idea forward.  The remaining projects were given recommendations from us judges on what to do to improve their ideas for future Pitch Rounds.”

Professor Mozill mentioned the teams that were not funded in the same sentence as “future Pitch Rounds”. That is because it is impossible for teams to “lose” during an Accelerate’s Pitch Round. The only difference between the funded teams and those that do not get funding, is money. Money to advance ideas is incredibly helpful, but the feedback given from the judges is incredibly valuable in advancing ideas. Many teams will take a new approach after hearing what the judges had to say about their ideas.

Cathleen Hallinan (BBME ‘21) of Cranial Care, a complimentary product to plagiocephaly helmets in the form of a skin cap meant to keep skin clear and keep the baby more comfortable, thoroughly enjoyed Pitch Round. “This Fall Pitch Round was my first time pitching and it was a really great experience! I had a great time prepping my pitch and practicing with other teams. I got to start the night off and it was not nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be. The judges had great feedback and asked some really interesting questions. I ended up being one of three teams funded and I was awarded $3000 which I am so grateful for! I’m so excited to see where I will be able to go with this project now that I will have better access to what I really need, and I have Accelerate to thank for that. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I’m excited to see what I accomplish with the support of Accelerate!”

Whether you were a student team, a judge or simply a spectator, the Fall 2019 Pitch Round was an incredibly informative night. Attending this event offered great knowledge in various unfamiliar territories. Accelerate’s slogan is “Love the Problem!” and before the night concluded, Monique Fuchs, Associate Vice President of Accelerate, offered advice that each team could use moving forward: “love your problem more”.

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