Student Entrepreneurs Pitch and Connect at Expo

Following pitches, all teams stand before judges for a short Q&A session.
By Kardelen Koldas ’15
May 1, 2019

Student teams competed at Colby’s Venture Pitch Competition April 26 for a $15,000 prize, selling their ideas in the allotted seven minutes. The judges were impressed, so much so that they ultimately decided there wasn’t one winner—there were three. Each was awarded $5,000.

“It was good last year, and honestly it was great this year,” said Pete Henig, a contest judge and founder and managing partner of Greenhouse Capital Partners.

The 9th annual Business Pitch Competition was part of Colby’s Entrepreneurship EXPO, organized by DavisConnects. The judges—Henig, Lisa Hallee ’81, Richard Hogan P’21, Mark McAuliffe ’79, and Eric Schwarz P’20—deliberated and ultimately singled out:

Easy Eats, founded by Christian Krohg ’22 and Katie Dougherty ’22, is a food delivery business launched almost two months ago at Colby. Through the Easy Eats’ app or website, students can place food orders from local restaurants, and other students deliver them to dorm rooms.

“We’ve already seen amazing traction,” said Dougherty, adding, “We’ve had four hundred orders to date, we have about two thousand app downloads. Looking at that, we’re looking to expand to different campuses by fall 2019.” Easy Eats just launched at Bates College and plans to spread across urban campuses.

At Colby, it currently has a team of 60 students and generated more than $10,000 in revenue. With the Expo prize, the team aims to build on its existing platforms as well as to create a tool for comparing price, availability, and wait times across different food-delivery services and another tool for restaurants to gather all online orders from various delivery services on a single platform.

Youth Prospects was created by two baseball players, Charles Jodka ’22 and Ryan Nakajima ’22, who saw firsthand the need for a better tool to connect young baseball prospects with college coaches. “Many companies have tried to fix this issue in the industry, but based on my and Charles’ experience in the recruiting process, they just haven’t done a good job,” Nakajima told the audience. “Our job is to bring the best prospects just clicks away,” said Jodka.

With 134,000 followers, Youth Prospects shares young baseball talents on their Instagram account. This summer they’ll also host their first live showcase at Yale Field, where they’ll connect coaches with players and begin collecting data on players to create a player database. “Baseball is undergoing an analytical revolution right now and we want to capitalize that,” said Jodka.

Created by Torsten Brinkema ’22, Weart Apparel treats T-shirts as a mobile canvas to support, share, and spread works of young and inspiring artists. So far, works of several Colby students have been printed on Weart T-shirts. Brinkema features an artist every two months and tells the story of the artist and their work. “I want them [customers] to buy a shirt, but only after they know what they’ll be wearing so they can wear it with pride,” he said.

With an annual subscription, it’s possible to receive every new T-shirt throughout the year for a discounted price. Currently, Weart gives 10 percent to the artist; however, Brinkema hopes to increase that as the business grows. “My dream at the end of this has always been to provide living artists with living wages. And I promise you, I won’t stop until I reach that goal,” he said.

Through the funding, he will expand the product line and include other types of apparel. Brinkema also won an additional $1,000 as winner of the Audience Choice Award.

The Entrepreneurship EXPO is the culmination of year-long entrepreneurship programming, mentorship, and courses to help students convert their initial ideas into well-rounded business and social ventures. In addition to the Venture Pitch Competition, the EXPO also featured an Idea Pitch Competition, where Maan Qraitem ’20 and Dhruv Joshi ’21 won first place for their Dream Cube—a new way to solve Rubik’s cube via augmented reality. Second place went to Josh Kim ’21, who created Colby e-Market to connect buyers and sellers on campus. Rayne Wang ’20 was awarded third place for Movart, a digital frame to display artwork from museums in households.