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Mountrepreneurs Attend DMV Top 150 Pitch Competition

Michael Unruh
Director, Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship

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The Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) on February 25 took a group of aspiring young Mountrepreneurs to George Mason University to attend the 5th Annual DMV Top 150 Pitch Competition and Networking Night.

Promoted as “the best networking event for college entrepreneurs in the region,” the DMV Top 150 offered the opportunity to connect and share ideas with an array of student entrepreneurs enrolled in District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia universities, with founders of successful startups in the region and with potential investors.

Keynote speaker Shy Pahlevani, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Hungry and LiveSafe, encouraged students in attendance to “look at challenges positively every day. Feel fulfilled when you solve a challenge. Don’t quit in the middle – see it all the way through.” He emphasized the importance of not only a good idea but also persistence.

Each participating university was offered the opportunity for one undergraduate student team to pitch it start-up in the evening’s pitch competition. The “Shark Tank style showdown” featured student entries from eight universities. This was the first time Mount students attended the event, and no university team pitched in the competition this year.

The winner of the competition, Ishosia Biotechnology from George Washington University, is developing a genetically enhanced red blood cell product, Erythrosyn, “which aims to uproot the existing donor blood supply chain by delivering a superior red blood cell product.” Erythrosyn is created by taking stem cells and genetically inducing stable and controllable differentiation into fully functioning, human red blood cells.

Taking second in the competition was Global Unified Air Quality (GUAQ), a business being developed by a team of Georgetown University students. Their product is a air-quality monitoring device with multiple sensors to provide in-depth measurements on air quality, enabling individuals and enterprises to gain a better understanding of the air they breathe.

Other student businesses pitched ranged from drones with 360 degree cameras for multiple use scenarios being developed by a University of Maryland team, to a Mary Washington student producing organic and hypoallergenic beeswax candles with the goal of opening a small storefront shop in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia.

For some of the Mount students in attendance, the event re-energized the pursuit of their own entrepreneurial ideas. “The DMV 150 was a great event for Mount students to jump right into the scene of entrepreneurship," observed Levi Schindel, C'20. "We were able to see what it takes to deliver a successful pitch and meet like-minded individuals to compare thoughts.”

Jeremy Guzman, C'19 and a current MBA student, noted “I found that most of the presenters had top-notch pitch decks, as well as high-quality poise and delivery. However, this is not to overshadow their awesome ideas/solutions.”

Thynlywn Garcia, C'23,  also was impressed by the pitch decks, stating “I really appreciated the opportunity to attend the event. I found out the difference between a professional looking pitch deck presentation and the type of slides we’d do in high school.”

MBA student Michael Abraha, C'18, said the event allowed him to “gain a lot of insight into how start-up companies get their foot in the door. These young entrepreneurs inspired us to believe we can achieve the same, if not better.”

The Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship seeks to encourage and support young entrepreneurs from all areas of the university. Contact PCE Director Michael Unruh at pce@msmary.edu or 301-447-5517.

Michael Unruh
Director, Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship