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The Purchase Shark Tank-Style Competition Awards Entrepreneurs

The top prize went to Shannon Dawson for a social media app for creatives.

On December 8, a masked crowed gathered in the Humanities Theatre to hear several students from across campus pitch their business ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs, à la ABC’s hit show Shark Tank.

It was a student in the Entrepreneurship in the Arts graduate program who earned the top prize—$5,000 of seed money. Shannon Dawson rose to the top with Step 2,3, a social media platform for creative professionals.

Audience members chose two competitors to split the $2,000 audience favorite award.

They selected Malaya Keene (political science) for Limitless Dance Solutions, an online purveyor of dance wear for dancers of all colors and skin tones, and Jarol Mendoza (economics) and Jonathan Carr (creative writing / economics minor) for Lit Caves, an educational website for young readers and writers and their teachers.

The panel of three judges included entrepreneur Nick Ohnell, founder, former CEO, and owner of Communications Supply Corporation; also CEO of Ohnell Capital, President of the Ohnell Family Foundation, and trustee of Manhattan Institute.

David Settanni ’09 studied economics at Purchase. After graduating cum laude, Settanni worked at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as a Field Economist. In 2018, he founded a Registered Investment Advisory firm, Settanni Financial. Currently he is Chief Financial Officer of Luxie Club, a luxury e-commerce business. Settanni is a board member of Special Kids of NY and a member of the Young Adults Group at Blessed Sacrament in New York, NY.

Andreas Messis ’94 (theatre design/tech) earned a BFA in scenic and lighting design at Purchase. In 2005, he founded his own closet and storage design company, transFORM. The company grew to 65 employees in New Rochelle and Manhattan. and also supported the arts, hosting curated shows featuring works by local and international artists in its showrooms in Westchester and the New York Design Center in Manhattan.

Introductory remarks were made by Director of the School of Natural and Social Sciences Rudolf Gaudio, President Peña, and Nancy Deckinger, the executive director of the Dr. E. Lawrence Deckinger Family Foundation, whose generous support helped create this competition.

From left to right: David Settanni (Judge), Andreas Messis (Judge), Jonathan Carr, Malaya Keen, J...

From left to right: David Settanni ’09 (Judge), Andreas Messis ’94 (Judge), Jonathan Carr, Malaya Keen, Jarol Mendoza, Yulia Chikish (Assistant Professor of Economics, main organizer), Nancy Deckinger (Donor and supporter of the Shark Tank competition), Shannon Dawson, Sacia Matthews, Caroline Loftus, Jourdyn Manning, Nick Ohnell (Judge).