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LaunchIt student startup competition starts Sept. 26 with pitches

Students with ideas for startups — as well as those with other skills looking to join potential entrepreneurs — are invited to take place in this year’s LaunchIt competition.

The third annual edition, coordinated by student club Enactus and SUNY Oswego’s School of Business, will begin with students having 1 minute to pitch their products, services and other startup ideas at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, in Sheldon Ballroom. In this first-round event, other students interested in helping make these ideas reality by lending skills in areas such as business planning, design, coding, marketing, writing or other aspects are invited to hear the pitches to potentially form startup teams.

In addition to a top cash prize of $2,000 ($1,000 for second place, and $500 for third place), LaunchIt serves as a springboard to prepare students for the New York Business Plan Competition. The Central New York regional competition will be hosted by Syracuse University in spring 2020, with the state finals Friday, May 1, in Albany. LaunchIt also provides opportunities for students to network with a successful group of mentors and judges. 

The second-round alumni-mentorship event is Oct. 10 and 11, where successful Oswego graduates will lend their expertise as teams develop their business plans. The finale will take place at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, in the Marano Campus Center auditorium with a panel of expert judges determining the winner of this year’s LaunchIt. 

Those interested in participating should register online using this form

Record of success

The success of the past two LaunchIt led to an increase in prizes money, thanks to the sponsors including Paychex, Sherwin Williams and Little Lukes Preschool.

“This event has been super successful,” said junior finance and economics major Anthony Pasquarella, co-project manager for LaunchIt. “We have helped kids who have had a passion and didn’t have a platform to make their passion a thing. We have helped bring their ideas and passion to life.” 

LaunchIt features many entrepreneurial ideas. Ranging from business ideas to inventions to business start-ups, students can pitch any business idea they have to the panel of judges.

“There is a huge variety, we have students from all over the school, not just business majors. There are computer science majors, English majors, there is everybody,” Pasquarella said.

The idea originated with Eli VanOrman and Jordan Shutts, now past Enactus presidents who have since graduated from SUNY Oswego. This year’s event will be coordinated by Pasquarella and co-project manager Justin Grose, a junior accounting major.

Anyone can attend the Sept. 26 event. Students do not need a business idea to be a part of the event. Students can pitch themselves and their skillset to a team of students with an idea. And could potentially join that team if their skillset matches what the team needs.

The team of mentors and judges consists of SUNY Oswego alumni typically from the School of Business. Many of the mentors have entrepreneurial backgrounds and help students with pitching their ideas to the panel of judges, which this year will include Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow.

“We invite alumni back and people who are interested in helping these teams and they help students specialize their ideas, help them find their niche and help organize their ideas into a concrete business proposal,” Pasquarella said. “The mentors are here to help them pitch to a panel of judges who essentially invest in their business so the mentors are there to help and make it a professional pitch.”

Enactus is a student entrepreneurship organization that focuses on applying classroom learning to business activities.

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