The sixth Entrepreneurship Workshop and Pitch Competition for current students and Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) took place from April 8-10. The event, aimed at fostering networking, mentorship and competitive presentation skills, differed from years past because the competing pitches were nearly equally split between social and commercial proposals.
Nile Berry ’14 won first place pitching his Brooklyn-based company, Marvel Vision, a creative content studio which uses drone technology to produce aerial analytics. This was Berry’s third year participating in the Pitch Competition. He received a cash prize of $2,500 plus legal and advisory services.
“I took part for the first time when I was a freshman [at Hamilton] and it really set me on a course for entrepreneurship,” Berry said. “Instead of thinking there were just three paths for after graduation—banking, law, medicine—it really opened up the idea that this was something I could do. It’s such an amazing, underutilized tool from the school.”
The panel of judges was made up of Michael Fawcett ’66, Hedy Foreman, Natasha Householder ’83, 2015 winner Peter Kazickas ’15, and 2014 winner Sam Matlick ’17. Participants hone their ideas and pitches over the course of the weekend, receiving coaching from the judges. On Saturday evening, the 12-minute pitches were presented and the judges offered their critiques following each one. The four finalists presented refined versions of their presentations on Sunday morning.
Andy Chen ’16 and Leonard Kilekwang ’16 received second place for their project, Technosafi, a mobile phone-based public health education platform aimed at combating diseases like typhoid and cholera in West Pokot, Kenya. Kilekwang strongly encouraged students to take advantage of the Pitch Competition, explaining, “The judges really help you develop your idea. You’ve got nothing to lose from participating.” Chen and Kilekwang received a cash prize and $11,000 in coaching services.
Third place went to Dayne Harris ’11, Russ Rosenband ’12 and Joe Pucci ’18 for NESCAC House, based on the Ivy League clubs for NESCAC alumni in and around New York City.
Anne McGarvey ’17 received fourth place for a sustainable farming model based in the Adirondacks, which would turn distressed land used by lumber companies into sources of fresh food for local communities.
“This year we saw the best uses of the judges’ advice and just really complete pitches overall,” Matlick said.
Kazickas echoed Matlick’s sentiments, adding, “It was such a joy to see how all the competitors adapted so quickly. They were really thinking on their feet.”
In addition to citing the large number of social pitches and the fact that the four winners were split equally between social and commercial pitches, Foreman praised the improvements everyone made over just two days. “Students were very engaged and really took advantage of every piece of professional advice,” she said.