Four Seton Hall University student entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to compete for over $16,000 in venture capital seed funding at Pirates Pitch 2021, Seton Hall’s 21st annual university-wide startup competition. The April 7 event was sponsored by the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at the Stillman School of Business, and attracted over 250 viewers. You can watch the contest online here.
The event kicked off in January when interested students attended a series of workshops and mentoring sessions. Each student team then submitted a two-page executive summary outlining his or her idea. Of the 20 startup ideas submitted by students throughout the university, four teams were chosen to compete in the final round. The startup ideas were evaluated based on several criteria, including originality, viability, and growth potential.
This year’s competition yielded a variety of startup ideas, as the aspiring entrepreneurs come from diverse backgrounds and are pursuing different academic disciplines. They included both undergraduate and graduate students. All four finalists received funding for their business ideas.
During Pirates Pitch, Dean Joyce Strawser commented that “the competition, which has become a signature event for Stillman, is a wonderful learning experience — not just for the contestants, but also for aspiring entrepreneurs who join us to watch the pitches.”
Nicholas Marinelli received $7,000 for the Extra Time Training app, which allows soccer players to train smarter harder, and more efficiently on a platform that tracks their tactical and fundamental performances. Players are able to unlock their potential and hone their athletic abilities, he said. He also won the $500 Audience Choice Award. Marinelli is a senior from Staten Island, N.Y. He is pursuing a dual degree in finance and information technology, along with certificates in market research, data analytics, entrepreneurship and leadership. Marinelli is a member of the Gerald P. Buccino ’63 Center for Leadership Development.
David Farrelly won $5,000 in seed funding for his business venture, Action Hearth, which is a virtual reality arcade. It provides virtual reality entertainment to inspire confidence and promote optimism in people’s everyday lives. Farrelly is a senior earning a degree in business administration and business law. He has operated his own disc jockey business for six years, and has expanded into other areas of production after an internship at the Times Square Alliance. In addition, he is working on immersive production media using virtual reality and podcasting by drafting development codecs to enhance digital surround.
Christian Patlan, cofounder of the Kevin Alexander Company, plans to design and sell male cosmetics that help men with skin imperfections, blemishes, and unwanted tattoos feel more confident. He was awarded $3,000 to help launch his idea. Patlan is from León, Guanajuato, Mexico, and has lived in California and Utah since immigrating to the United States. He’ll receive a Master of Arts in diplomacy and international relations when he graduates in May, as well as an MBA with specializations in Latin America and the Caribbean and management.
Annabella Robb was awarded $1,000 for her business, known as “Annabellacures.” It is a custom press-on nail business that offers trending nail designs, character nails, and even portrait nails. The business was launched in September of 2020, offering luxury hand-painted designs without the high price. Robb is a junior from Maywood, majoring in graphic design and minoring in art history.
As part of their awards, these student entrepreneurs will receive pro bono legal services from attorneys Christopher Santomassimo and Anthony Davis and their staff at Santomassimo Davis LLP, a law firm with offices in Parsippany and Iselin.
Furthermore, to encourage the student entrepreneurs to continue developing their startup business models, each finalist can earn an additional $1,500 in venture seed capital by participating and successfully completing the eight-week Pirates Launch Pad virtual summer accelerator program. This workshop, hosted by the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is a wonderful way for budding entrepreneurs to get their businesses rolling.
Susan Scherreik, founding director of the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, expressed her pride in the students during the event. “These young entrepreneurs demonstrated passion and drive as they overcame many obstacles to compete in Pirates Pitch. That growth is a reflection of both the limitless creativity and ingenuity of Seton Hall students and the planning and support of all of those involved,” she said.
The alumni investor judges were:
- Bryan Jakovcic, ’09, president and owner, Fusion Health (Woodbridge)
- Abe Kasbo, founder and CEO of Verasoni Worldwide (Fairfield) and chair of the Advisory Board at the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- Pravina Raghavan, ’01, executive vice president, Division of Small Business and Community Economic Development, at Empire State Development (New York)
- Gabino Roche Jr., ’98, founder and CEO of Saphyre (Hoboken)