The Charger Blog

Students from Diverse Majors Excel in Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition

The University’s Pompea College of Business recently hosted its Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition, enabling students in all of the University’s academic colleges and schools to learn how to develop and pitch their business ideas.

December 3, 2021

By Sayyed Fazal Mehdi ’22 M.S., Luca Pietrangeli ’22, Brian Esposito ’22, and Romario Pusey ’23 M.S.

Left to right: Dean Brian Kench, Ph.D., Gabriela Garcia-Perez ’24, and Dean Ron Harichandran, Ph.D pose for a photo.
Left to right: Dean Brian Kench, Ph.D., Gabriela Garcia-Perez ’24, and Dean Ron Harichandran, Ph.D.

As part of the University’s Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition, students from a variety of majors pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges. Students had five minutes to share their ideas for a company or organization that would offer a solution to a challenge. Judges ranked students based on such categories as the value proposition, their delivery, and on investor interest.

Sayyed Fazal Mehdi ’22 M.S., a candidate in the University’s graduate program in mechanical engineering, captured first place in the competition. Gabriela Garcia-Perez ’24, a business management major, finished in second place. She pitched Community Integration Mentoring Program, an organization that fosters community involvement.

“It was nice to return to the Atrium on the Orange Campus for the finals of this year’s Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition,” said Brian Marks, J.D., Ph.D., executive director of the University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. “We also simulcast the event, given space limitations because of COVID-19 physical distancing requirements. This year’s finalists demonstrated passion and an entrepreneurial mindset and embedded within their business plan pitches notions of social entrepreneurship and/or environmental sustainability. We look forward to incubating these ventures.”

Prior to the pitch competition, students attended a series of workshops and learned about topics such as marketing, finance, and supply chains, as well as how to improve their pitches. Below, several students who took part in the pitch competition reflect on the experience.

Sayyed Fazal Mehdi ’22 M.S.

Capturing first place at the Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition felt majestic. First of all, I would like to thank each and every one who supported me, which includes my family, University faculty such as Dr. Carnasciali, Dr. Marks, Prof. Angeli, and the Mechanical Engineering Department, as it would not have been possible without their support.

The competition was very delightful. I would also like to recognize all the participants in the competition, who each had unique and innovative solutions to challenging problems. I was among four finalists, and they were all amazing and very dedicated to their venture idea. I would like to congratulate each one of them, and I hope they succeed in their venture.

All sessions of the Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition offered a great learning experience, as we had sessions in sales and marketing, operation, and revenue generation, which, as an engineering student, I was not as familiar with. Each session was very engaging and offered invaluable business knowledge. The experience also gave me the opportunity to meet brilliant mentors who helped me a lot in my journey.

After winning this competition, it has given me more confidence with my new venture "Tap Alert," since there were people who liked it. Their feedback that my product has the potential to bring change boosts my dedication. Once again, a big thank you to everyone.

Left to right: Dean Brian Kench; Robert Alvine ’00 Hon., program sponsor; Sayyed Fazal Mehdi ’22 M.S.; and Dean Ron Harichandran pose for a photo.
Left to right: Dean Brian Kench; Robert Alvine ’00 Hon., program sponsor; Sayyed Fazal Mehdi ’22 M.S.; and Dean Ron Harichandran.
Luca Pietrangeli ’22

The Alvine competition was a great experience. Not only does it allow you to understand your business/idea more, but it also allows you to get experience pitching and being in front of an audience.

The advice I received in the workshops has allowed me to see my business from a different angle. I have learned how to create and develop an effective and organized slide deck and how to pitch my business in five minutes. I also gained a deeper understanding of important business-related topics, such as finance and marketing, and honed and polished in my ideas.

I had already developed the Moose Coffee Company before the Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition. I started it at the beginning of 2021 and I launched it in August. I’m still in the early stages of developing the business, but it has truly been an exciting ride!

Brian Esposito ’22

I Initially joined the Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition with the hopes of replicating my experience from last year’s competition to receive grant money for my company, Top Rain Power Washing. Within a few weeks, I quickly recognized this was an avenue that I no longer wished to travel. I felt I could do more than just be a participant. With my experience helping lead Brendan Shamas ’23, owner of BES Aerial Imaging LLC, to first place in last year’s Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition, I knew I needed to step up my game.

Brian Marks speaking on stage.
Brian Marks, executive director of the University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, speaks at the event.

Additionally, with my participation as a student and a mentor in BUSA1000 along with Charger Start-Up Weekend, I recognized my ability to create a diverse and strategic slide deck. I called upon my competitor, Luca Pietrangeli ’22, owner and master roaster of Moose Coffee Co., and asked if he needed a partner. From there, we jumped right into the work, spending many late nights discussing our strategy, formulating our slides, and even sipping on his signature dark roast blend of coffee.

In the finals, we came up just short, but we understood this competition was a game of inches. Moose Coffee Co. was not out of this competition until the judges revealed their decision. While this was an amazing opportunity, this is not the end for Moose Coffee Co. Luca’s passion and heart for eco-friendly coffee and suitability are the driving forces for his vision of the future. With the same desire to continue this opportunity, Luca and I have a lot of work to do to “Stay Wild” at Moose Coffee Co.

Lastly, I want to give a huge thank you to Dr. Brian Marks for always taking the time to set up these events and opportunities for students at the University of New Haven.

Romario Pusey ’23 M.S.

The Alvine New Venture Pitch Competition has definitely been an awesome experience in showcasing my talents and skillset. The price one has to pay for success definitely became clearer to me, as being present at the weekly Friday meetings was key to maintaining one's progress throughout the competition. The meetings were hosted by Dr. Marks and his well-advised graduate assistant Carina Giannini ’21, ’22 MBA.

"I was really blown away by the idea of participating in this competition."Romario Pusey ’23 M.S.

Those weekly meetings definitely educated me on what is required in the building of a successful business, such as assessing all benefits, risks, and even the competition. These meetings allowed me to interact with established individuals who have been leaving a positive footprint in the world of business. They served as key mentors who facilitated the development of my idea ‘Magiea MedCap.”

My idea involved the development of a medical capsule to fight inflammation and thrombosis. This field is directly aligned with my passion, as I am a graduate student pursuing a master’s in biomedical engineering. The blood contact medical device industry is one that is growing fast, and it is one that is projected to reach up to $140 billion by 2026.

My idea and value proposition led me to the finals of the competition. I was really blown away by the idea of participating in this competition, and to be in the finals was great motivation – especially as a first-year, first-semester international graduate student from Jamaica.

I was successful in having a priceless experience, even though I did not win any of the cash prizes. Overall, the competition widened my knowledge and also improved my networking capacity, because I met some very outgoing students from the University of New Haven who are doing great work in solving some of the problems of our society. I would recommend students take this opportunity to participate and educate themselves, as this competition provides the perfect platform for these developments.

Sayyed Fazal Mehdi ’22 M.S. is a candidate in the University’s graduate program in mechanical engineering. Luca Pietrangeli ’22 is a marketing major. Brian Esposito ’22 is a business management major with a minor in marketing. Romario Pusey ’23 M.S. is a candidate in the University’s graduate program in biomedical engineering.