Twelve Boston College entrepreneurs pitched business ideas in under 60 seconds at the third-annual Elevator Pitch Competition on Thursday evening. The panel of judges chose Alex Kontopanos, CSOM ’18, as the winner for her startup EcoLiv, which brings zero-waste products to hotels using water-soluble toiletries.
The finals for the competition—the first of the year for the Shea Center for Entrepreneurship—consisted of 12 companies chosen from an initial field of 30. The entrepreneurs were tasked to pitch their company to a panel of judges in under a minute—any additional speaking was instructed to be drowned out by clappers in the audience.
The four judges included Kerry Cronin, a professor in the philosophy department; Tom Coburn, BC ’13, from Jebbit; Charles Hipwood, BC ’95, from MassVentures; and Eric Wise, BC ’87, from RBC Capital Markets. Each had two minutes to ask any clarifying questions regarding the businesses. The judges frequently inquired about the target customer, competitors, profits, and feasibility of the product.
After each set of pitches, the 50-person audience were asked to vote via text for the “fan favorite,” granting another minute to the final three crowd favorites. JB Bruggeman’s, CSOM ’19, business Kart stole the crowd’s admiration with his model that provides a food delivery service on BC’s campus while accepting student dining bucks. Bruggeman added that he will employ students at the University to deliver the food, and anticipates 13,000 deliveries completed by April.
The judges awarded Kontopanos first place and the $500 prize. Her company, EcoLiv, brings no-waste products to hotels, using water-soluble toiletries that are similar to Tide Pods. The company’s goal is to curb costs for hotel waste management and provide an ecofriendly alternative to traditional hotel toiletries. When asked about her cost competitiveness and target customer, Kontopanos explained that she is targeting moderately priced hotels that are focused on eco-friendly initiatives. In terms of the future for her business, Kontopanos said that since the hotel business is a worldwide industry, EcoLiv could expand into the global market, all while focusing on the environment.
“My team members and I were trying to figure out how we can eliminate waste,” Kontopanos said “We think that people are recycling but there’s more that we can do. We think that businesses are a big part of that, so we were looking at which industries have a lot of waste that can take action, and we thought a big one was hotel industries simply because they have those single-use products.”
Brendan Guerin, CSOM ’21, and his company Bump came in second place. Bump allows users to instantly share all of their social media profiles with the scan of a QR code. Guerin told the judges that his app works similarly to a Snapchat code, except it integrates all of the user’s social media. Guerin plans to provide an option that allows the user to share a fake profile for people with whom they don’t wish to share private information.
Kelly Stone’s, MCAS ’19, company Koru Clothing came in third place. Stone created a clothing line that will be designed by a team of individuals with developmental disabilities. Stone’s goal is to employ an under-used working population and raise awareness for developmental disabilities. Stone aims to keep the team small, and said that the biggest challenge will be marketing the clothing.
The Elevator Pitch Competition also featured ideas for an online marketplace for short-term jobs, virtual reality language immersion, sports rental equipment, hands-free mouth cleaners, an online services marketplace, weekly food delivery, photovoltaic cells to improve power efficiency, and an all-in-one social media app.