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Students Compete in Fall Big IDEA Competition

Michael Unruh
Director, Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship

The Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship on December 9 hosted the second "Big IDEA Competition." Student finalists pitched their big idea to a panel of three alumni judges.

The goal of the competition is to inspire entrepreneurial thinking campus-wide. Students from all majors are encouraged to present an idea in writing with certain requirements that require no more than a week of thought and documentation. Submissions may also contain a YouTube video of up to 90 seconds in length. Finalists are selected by reviewers based on written submissions and then participate in the finals, done via a pitch competition format. Alumni judges for the competition this year were Michael Faubert, C’96, Lori Hockley, C’96, and Pete DeCandia, C’13.

big-idea-1st-in-text.pngThe team of seniors Paige Buchanan and Andrew Ku won the competition with their idea “R3-For the Future,” a community-based recycling program using conveniently placed smart materials recovery bins that incorporate AI, computer vision and robotics in the sorting process. The team submitted a YouTube video as part of their initial submission.

Seniors Brett Snow and Rebekah Balick were the second-place winners with their idea, “Coffee Makes the World Go Ground.” Citing the environmental impact of the millions of pounds of spent coffee grounds that go into the trash every year, this big idea proposes a sustainable reuse approach that could be a win-win for all.

Junior Erin Duncan took third place honors for her idea “Gift Hunt.” Erin pitched Gift Hunt as “a new and innovative way to celebrate your loved ones' birthdays, holidays, proposals, promposals and more!” In partnership with vendors, the app and website would allow the planning of a day of selected experiences with clues leading from one to the next, as explained in her YouTube video. Erin also won the “Best Pitch” award for her presentation, winning that award for the second year in a row.  

Students can dig deeper into their nascent business ideas through the annual Loiello Business Pitch Competition in the spring semester.

Michael Unruh
Director, Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship