Senior Wins First Annual Startup Pitching Competition
Sheldon “Max” Pearce ’18 (economics) recently won first prize in the first annual Purchase College Startup Pitching Competition, modeled on the popular ABC show Shark Tank. The contest was part of assistant professor of economics Liya Palagashvili’s class Entrepreneurship and Finance: Turning Ideas Into Startups.
Pearce is founder of Flynance, a startup organization that helps young athletes navigate the complex world of collegiate and professional sports while learning basic pocketbook economics. Pearce received the $5,000 award from Palagashvili along with his co-founder Derick Ansah ’17 (economics).
The grant award was facilitated by GenFKD, a not-for-profit organization designed to increase young Americans’ understanding of financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and the skills necessary for careers in the new economy. The organization aims to help young adults better understand the new economy and provide better outcomes for students after graduation.
The second place award of $2,000 was presented to Liam Nethercott ’18 (economics) for a campus food delivery service concept, SUNY Purchase Delivers.
The startup pitching competition was the culmination of the course co-taught by Palagashvili and GenFKD’s entrepreneur-in-residence Vadim Revzin. The course focused on entrepreneurship and career-readiness through an intensive curriculum developed by GenFKD that included storytelling, networking, data analysis, budgeting and finance, pitching, leadership, negotiation strategies, taxes and regulation.
“Our Purchase students are so full of creativity and great ideas, and we’re thrilled to work with GenFKD and help students bring their business ideas to fruition,” says Palagashvili.
The “sharks” were a diverse group of entrepreneurs who provided invaluable feedback after each student presentation. Among them were:
- Danny Nardo, co-founder of Nardo’s Naturals (who received an investment from Barbara Corcoran on ABC’s “Shark Tank”)
- Joe Bayen, an experienced entrepreneur and founder of Lenny Credit
- David Liu, of the XO Group Inc. (formerly The Knot)
- Sarah Hill, CEO of Bookstr
- Courtney Cachet, television personality and celebrity designer
- Nick Ohnell, philanthropist and founder of Ohnell Capital (founder and former CEO of Communications Supply Corp)
- Justin Dent, executive director, GenFKD
The Purchase Startup Pitching Competition and the Entrepreneurship Class were made possible by a generous donation from Nancy Deckinger.