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Annual Shark Tank Competition Awards $5000 Grand Prize

The team behind Purchase Beauty Bar—Chumba Kiplagat ’23, Una Bharat ’23, and Norie Guerra ’23—would bring an affordable salon to campus.

Business-savvy students competed in the annual Shark Tank-style pitching competition on December 7 for the chance to win $5000 in seed money.

The $5,000 Grand Prize winners were seniors Chumba Kiplagat ’22 (Mathematics & Computer Science), Una Bharat ’23 (Arts Management), and Norie Guerra ’23 (Arts Management), whose project Purchase Beauty Bar (PBB) would bring a beauty salon to campus with affordable prices for the Purchase community.

The Audience Favorite Prize of $1,000 went to sophomore Joseph Salerno (Economics) for his project Helio Solar Vehicles, which proposes creating a car powered exclusively by solar energy with zero engine emissions.

The annual Purchase Shark Tank Competition is an opportunity for Purchase students to receive funding to take their ideas and turn them into ventures, as well as scale existing ventures.

Iuliia Chikish, Assistant Professor of Economics and Economics Lecturer Andreas Messis ’94 (Theatre Design/Tech) spearheaded the competition.


The judges panel included entrepreneurs representing a variety of business industries.

Nick Ohnell

Entrepreneur, Founder, former CEO and owner of Communications Supply Corporation, CEO of Ohnell Capital, President of the Ohnell Family Foundation and trustee of Manhattan Institute

Zoë Gadsden ’15

Zoé graduated from Purchase College with a degree in Economics and is currently the COO of Matter Labs, the company behind zkSync, whose mission is to make self-sovereign participation in the digital economy affordable for anyone in the world. Matter Labs recently raised a $200m Series C round.

Gadsden has spent most of her career supporting founders and the startup ecosystem: before joining Matter Labs, she worked with underrepresented founders at Google for Startups, connecting them with the right people, products, and best practices to help their startup grow. She was previously Head of New Ventures at TOA, Europe’s largest interdisciplinary technology festival and community for knowledge exchange and collaboration. And Gadsden is a founding member of the creative collective Female Narratives, and is an angel investor. Gadsden recently appeared on the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 / Europe / Finance list.

David Hoffman

David Hoffman is the founder of Search Smart Marketing, a digital marketing agency whose clients include national brands such as AutoNation, Invisalign, and First Capital, as well as leading businesses, large and small, in Westchester County and the NYC metro region.

Hoffman’s experience in digital marketing dates back to 1995, as Online Director at The Journal News. Hoffman is an adjunct professor at both Purchase College and Fordham University, where he teaches search marketing in their Digital Advertising program.

Ronnie Ram

Ronnie Ram is the founder of Inspiria Outdoor, an advertising agency specializing in outdoor advertising such as billboards, airports, buses, subways, and Times Square. Based in Westchester County, his firm has been listed on the Inc 5000 list two years in a row and works with clients all over the country. Ram’s previous experience includes being a partner at the business brokerage firm, a marketing consultant, and a sales consultant with Dale Carnegie Training.

Ram holds a masters from NYU, was named a 40 Under 40 Rising Star by the Business Council of Westchester in 2010, and sits on the board of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Participants in the annual Purchase Shark Tank-style competition for 2022.

The Competition

Other contestants included Arts Management major Dana Farmer, whose project Atlas, Inc. would convert vehicles into mobile living spaces and rent them to customers; Leslie Ledesma ’23 (Psychology, Economics minor), who proposed Airhome, a platform that connects cleaning services professionals with customers and aims to empower the workers and increase their economic freedom; and Weird Dancer by New Media major Paul Magliato ’90, a social media platform where creatives can create new content, collaborate with each other, and earn money by selling NFTs.

This year’s Shark Tank event was made possible by generous contributions from the Dr. E. Lawrence Deckinger Family Foundation.