Pitch NJ Shows Off High School Students’ Entrepreneurial Skills

In March, the Morris Tech Meetup and its partners, including the Morris County Economic Development Corporation and West Morris Capital (Lake Hopatcong), hosted Pitch NJ, a pitch competition for high school students.

This year two teams tied for first place in the contest, and were awarded $1,500 each. A third-place winner was also announced.

The winners also secured a spot on the Passage to Profit radio show, hosted by Elizabeth and Richard Gearhart, of Gearhart Law (Summit).

Tied for the top spot were DisolvEnergy, from Livingston High School, a student company working on a sustainable consumer battery, and Omega Speech and Debate, a debate coaching company, also from Livingston High School.

The third-place winner was CarCam, from Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School (Livingston), a company that wants to add another camera sensor to your car to protect it from being tampered with or stolen.

The six student teams that participated in the event were all very prepared to present before family, friends, judges and meetup group members. They had been chosen from among 63 teams, according to John Carini, an organizer of the Morris Tech Meetup, as well as the founder and CEO of iEnterprises (Chatham).

The event was organized by a number of people, but Carini gave a special shout-out to the high school organization called Business Boot Camp, which is a nonprofit dedicated to instilling entrepreneurial passion in youth. He also recognized the Morris County Economic Development Corporation, which is a part of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, for its help with the event.

Chris Murphy, of West Morris Capital, an organization looking at ways to help the economy in the western Morris County area, spoke briefly to the group. West Morris Capital furnished the cash prizes for the event, along with Carini and organizer Mark Annett, president of Annett Enterprises (Livingston), who both contributed additional funds when there was a tie.

Murphy pointed out that his organization has been grappling with the question, “How do you create and foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem here in western Morris County? … One thing seems certain, though: Anything we can do to encourage young people to think like entrepreneurs is a great place to start.”

DisolvEnergy

One of the first-place winners, DisolvEnergy, represented by Livingston High School students Aryan Bansal, Dylan Benzi and Tyler Burbage, pitched an idea for a single-use battery that is biodegradable and could replace AA and AAA batteries in consumer use cases.  The group has been working on this technology at school.

Said one of the student presenters, “Our product is an eco-friendly solution for batteries on the market. Today, we replace current loose materials with biodegradable and solid-state alternatives. This results in an increase in battery life span, creating the next generation of energy-storage technology.”

The students also had a strong business plan in place, saying that they would sell the batteries as alternatives to brand-name batteries at smaller retail stores. They also want to license their technology to others. The students mentioned that a professor from Princeton University had been advising them.

One of the judges wanted to know why existing battery makers were not beating them to the punch with this technology. The students said that, while some companies are venturing into solid-state batteries, they are not doing so in the consumer market, but are instead working on electric vehicles. He added that Disolv’s work is being done “very early.”

Pitch NJ winner Omega Speech and Debate | Mark Annett

Omega Speech and Debate

The other first-place winner, Omega Speech and Debate, was founded by  Livingston High School junior Matthew Zhang, who has extensive speech and debate experience.

“My company works to address two problems. The first is a lack of access to quality debate coaching services. Many students in the local vicinity want to learn the extracurricular activity of competitive debates, but can’t because most debate education programs are either very expensive or located far away. The second problem is the widespread fear of public speaking.”

Impressively, this company is already operating and bringing in revenue. In fact, Zhang said that the company has made $37,000 so far.

CarCam

Three students from CarCam, the third-place winner, led off the Pitch NJ event, discussing their product, which prevents car vandalism and break-ins.  Nearly 750,000 vehicles were broken into or stolen in 2019 in the U.S., they said. To combat this, the students had designed an app that works with a camera sensor. The owner downloads the app, and if anyone comes within two feet of the owner’s car, he or she is notified. There are fail-safes involved. If a valet, for example, wants to enter the car, the user can clear him or her. Judges questioned what would happen when the car was parked in a busy area, such as a street with many pedestrians, but they mostly liked the idea.

The other presenters had entrepreneurial ideas about how to make sure vaccination cards are not falsified; how to reduce the overconsumption of clothing through a clothing swap platform; and how to darken glass with the push of a button, for example, to darken the windows of a car so you can take a nap, among other uses.

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