Young Student with Dog Treat Idea Wins PitchNJ at Morris Tech Meetup

Spring is the season for pitch events, and Morris Tech Meetup started off in late March with Pitch New Jersey, a virtual event for students.

The event was sponsored by West Morris Capital (Lake Hopatcong), which provided the funding and prizes.  The first-place winner will appear on the Passage to Profit radio show, hosted by Richard and Elizabeth Gearhart on WOR 710 or iHeartRadio. Other sponsors included the Morris County Economic Development Corporation (Florham Park), Business BootCamp (Denville), iEnterprises (Chatham) and Fairleigh Dickinson University, where the group usually holds its meetings.

The top winner was Fetch by Maya, who also received $1,500. Fetch is a healthy dog treat company whose founder developed the formula for the treats and has sold some of them, giving a portion of her proceeds to charity. Maya, who will go by just her first name here because she is only in 6th grade, said the treats are gluten-free and use human-grade ingredients, among them almond flour, rolled oats mixed with coconut oil and spices, which make the treats smell good to humans. “They are naturally sweetened with bananas and have no allergens,” she told the group. The judges liked the fact that this very young competitor had already made money from her idea, and that she had incorporated a philanthropic component.

The second-place winner, claiming a prize of $1,000, was Security Key, represented by Azaryah Foger and Rebecca Wiater. The team uses fingerprint readers in a system for vetting authorized school entry and attendance keeping. They first developed the idea as a way to keep religious schools secure while still allowing authorized entry. And as the team noted, religious organizations don’t often have the money to hire security guards. The judges liked the novel suggestion that the fingerprint readers also tie into the institution’s attendance records, creating an easier way for the school administration to take attendance. The system can also be used for security at houses of worship.

Coming in third place, and winning $500, was Weasel, which presented a novel solution to the lack of security and anonymity in SMS. The team included Tejas Mehta, Connor McDermid, Mario DiSanza and Frank Gomes. The app, which is accompanied by a tiered subscription plan, allows SMS messages to be made private and undecipherable. There are also virtualized phone numbers for encrypted messaging use. During the event, several attendees commented on the technical knowledge and abilities of this team of high schoolers, who were able to put this prototype together.

Two of the student entrepreneurial groups won honorable mentions, receiving $250 each. They were Deliver Together and The Guardian.

Deliver Together had an inspiring story. The student-led nonprofit organization, run by Maurice Korish, Adam Hollander, Neil Mathew and Matthew Mendelsohn, was created after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It delivers groceries to immunocompromised and elderly individuals by pairing high school volunteers with clients. Their project covers several counties.

The Guardian team, made up of Ariel Hammerman, Liav Merlin and Alexis Sohnen, envisioned a watch app for Alzheimer patients that would allow their guardians to track their loved ones’ locations, pulse abnormalities, falls, general emergencies and wandering. And it provides the patients with cognitive exercises and personalized daily alarms to signify their completion. The team also aims to build a network for the caregivers of these patients to exchange tips and discuss concerns.

More information about the participating teams can be found here.

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