Business Ideas for Young Adults
Karen Castaneda ’18, CEO, Anica Bustamante ’18 and Maria Santacruz ’17, young Saint Peter’s University entrepreneurs representing a dessert for dogs company, Pup Pawps, took the stage at the Shark Tank Business Pitch competition at Saint Peter’s University. They were trying to convince the panel of local judges (or sharks) that their idea was investment worthy.
The industry experts, also known as sharks, who judged the business pitches based on an intense rubric were Bruce Rosenthal, M.B.A., Ph.D., KPMG founding dean of the School of Business, Phil Delabar, M.B.A., business adjunct professor; Kimberly Sumpter, owner of Wax Kandy Candle Company; Aleksandra Lacka of Insights Studio; and Janak Sarda, an international entrepreneur. The competition was supported by the Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University, the Provident Bank Foundation and the PSEG Foundation and organized by the Saint Peter’s business administration department.
Pup Pawps distributed samples of its all organic and mostly gluten free dog dessert samples in an attempt to win over the judges. As well as gave a PowerPoint presentation that highlighted the benefits of the treats such as that they were also human-edible. (You could share a treat with your pet!) The PowerPoint covered the business plan, goals and objectives, target market and plans for expansion in the future. Groups including Pup Pawps enhanced their presentation by showing their strong social media presence and company websites (view the Pup Pawps website here). The Pup Pawps team was able to excite the listeners with their energy and won the audience choice award.
“Pup Pawps was an idea started by our CEO, Karen, in her home and we’re hoping that through this exercise we can launch it into a sustainable business, ” said Bustamante.
During the question and answer sessions that followed each business pitch, the judges asked the teams tough questions. They inquired about the market potential of the products. They also wanted to know what barriers the companies will face and how they will deal with expansion. The judges pressured the teams to answer questions about their marketing strategy and the revenue potential of their ideas.
First and second place were chosen by the judges and received cash rewards. The first place prize went to an ambitious freshman, Davin Varela ’20 and his company Social Throne, a cell-phone application. Even though his business was hypothetical, he was able to wow the judges with his upbeat attitude and pitch performance. Varela will move on to compete in a statewide collegiate business model competition called UPitchNJ.
“Social throne had a lot of capacity for growth that fills an unmet need in the market, ” said Mary Kate Naatus, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the department of business administration and director of research for the Ignite Institute.
Second prize was awarded to Solomon Crawford ’17, and his clothing company J-Life, who impressed the judges with his plan for growth. J-Life is an established company that is online and is currently building a social media presence. Crawford designed his own apparel and then worked with American t-shirt and hat manufacturers. His company inspires people to live the “high life.” “Become a mountain amongst your peers, ” the tagline of his business says on Instagram. The J-Life brand is reinforced by an urban photo shoot featured on his website.
“The Shark Tank competition is a great way for students to identify business opportunities, create a business plan and practice pitching to investors and a large audience. The students did a fantastic job preparing for the competition and presenting their business ideas, ” said Dr. Naatus.