Students Pitch Innovative Business Models in Blackstone LaunchPad Competition

Fashion industry management senior Brittany Buckmire takes first place for her proposed U.S.-made apparel brand.

Top Ram judges and event organizers (from left to right) Mark Sunderland, Jason Crook, Carl Starkey, D.R. Widder and Jack Klett present fashion industry management senior Brittany Buckmire (center) takes with her first-place award.

PhilaU students pitched innovative businesses that included a digital business card, a piggy bank made of recycled materials and a website providing hard-to-find environmentally safe products this week at the first Top Ram business model competition.

The competition, sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Philadelphia University, required students to submit a business model canvas for their proposal and deliver a seven-minute business pitch to a panel of faculty experts May 6 in the Lawrence N. Field DEC Center.

“The multidisciplinary storytelling we saw today was just fantastic,” D.R. Widder, vice president for innovation, told the student competitors. “I have seen thousands of business pitches and these really are some of the best I’ve ever seen.”

Student Silvio Tinello pitches his business plan for a piggy bank made of recycled materials.

Student Silvio Tinello pitches his business plan for a piggy bank made of recycled materials.

Widder served as a judge along with Mark Sunderland, director of academic operations for Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, Jack Klett, associate dean of graduate studies, and Jason Crook, assistant professor of marketing. The judges selected 10 projects for the live pitch opportunity from a pool of 23 submissions.

Fashion industry management senior Brittany Buckmire won first place and $300 for her proposed U.S.-made apparel brand Constitution, which she developed to disrupt the fast-fashion industry trend used by many large retailers, such as H&M.

After she graduates this month, Buckmire is moving to San Francisco to participate in Gap Inc.’s retail management trainee program to study corporate inventory management, production and merchandising. But she dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. “When I do one day launch my own fashion business, corporate social responsibility will be at its heart,” Buckmire said.

The second-place prize of $200 went to Strategic Design MBA students Alex Winkler and Adam Sanphy for Vizpad, their proposal for a customizable, reusable whiteboard notebook that would reduce the paper waste of physical notebooks. “We are in the prototyping phase right now, so feedback is gold,” said Winkler about the opportunity to present to the judges. “We are going to take their feedback and create another iteration of the Vizpad.”

Christopher Dang, sophomore fashion merchandising and management major, and Jonny Nguyen, junior business management major, earned third place and $100 for their proposed Pho restaurant, Pho Me, Pho You, Pho Us. They pitched an on-the-go version of the Vietnamese noodle soup to suit the busy lifestyle of young professionals and plan to use the prize money to further develop their Pho recipe.

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