On Tuesday, April 18, the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation hosted its annual Get Seeded Pitch Night. Now in its third year, this event saw five startups give their pitch to a panel of judges and an audience who decided whether or not they make it to the next stage. Presented by the University of Connecticut School of Business and the Werth Institute, many of the startups were former or current UConn students. With an emphasis on technology, sustainability and education, each startup brought a unique idea or invention to the table.
For the Get Seeded Demo Day, the five selected teams were chosen from the previous pitch nights. With this, each group has refined its pitch to be more technical and detailed than the original. Along with a smaller contestant group, there are also larger funding pools with first place receiving $5,000, second place receiving $2,500 and third place receiving $1,000. With such a substantial amount of money up for grabs, it was all but guaranteed that each brand would bring their A-game this evening.
“Get Seeded Demo Day provides our students with the opportunity to pitch their business idea to a wide array of alumni, members of our community and mentors. They’re also able to receive insights, feedback, questions, and support to our teams and also reward the teams with some funding,” said Executive Director Jennifer Mathieu.
Competitors for tonight’s event included:
Clothing Optional: A women’s intimate apparel brand made of organic and non-toxic materials that promote feminine wellness by Christina Phillips.
Geo Mate: A mobile app aiming to help students feel safe walking alone at night by Audrey Larson, Angel Velasquez and Charlotte Chen.
Milieu: A mobile app to reduce anxiety and isolation among students with ADHD and Autism by connecting them via special interests created by Sabrina Uva.
Project Clean Surf: An eco-friendly alternative to standard polystyrene and expanded polystyrene surfboard cores by Amelia Martin.
Toribio LLC: A tech-fashion brand seeking to evolve the utility of clothing and grant people greater insight into their own personal health created by John Toribio, Kyle Mahoney, Joshua Ross and Josué Martinez-Martinez.
The Get Seeded Demo Day is a great opportunity to witness these companies and their plans in action. You can watch it live through the CCEI website and see teams give their presentations with their pitch decks and slides. This is the best way to fully understand what each company is doing and what they hope to achieve. If you’ve ever seen Shark Tank, you know that the pitch is one of the most important and entertaining parts of the startup process.
The winner of the 2022 Demo Day, Natalie Lacroix, shed some light on what it was like for her to compete. “When we were able to present on demo day we took everything that we had from the original Seeded and we started narrowing down what it is we wanted to do with our company. We learned who we wanted to market to and we knew that this was a great opportunity to pitch and get some funding to help us keep going.”
Some of the previous participants of the Get Seeded Demo Day have gone on to do very impressive things with their companies. For these budding businesses, this is another opportunity to get not only funding but also valuable critiques from a panel of judges. This year’s panel included Shannon Alle, the creator and co-owner of Grown; Dan Faiman, the founder and CEO of Revyrie and State Senator Toni Boucher. With such a diverse panel of judges, all participants were sure to gain valuable knowledge from various viewpoints.
After several hours of discussion, presenting and voting, the winners were announced. In third place, Torbio’s team received $1000 in venture capital for their presentations on the future of wearable technology. In second place, Uva’s Milieu took home $2500 for her dedication to creating a safe place for students with Autism and ADHD. And the grand prize for the night went to Phillips and Clothing Optional for her passionate presentation on the importance of chemical-free women’s intimate apparel. For her efforts, she was rewarded $5000 in venture capital.
The Get Seeded Pitch Night is just one component of the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Venture Building Programs. In addition to this event, there are five other programs available under their Venture Building umbrella that allow alumni and students to develop the skills needed to become successful entrepreneurs. What’s even more impressive is that not all of the entrepreneurs are UConn students; some come from other institutions. Regardless of your age or background, CCEI’s Get Seeded program is an excellent way to obtain capital and pursue your entrepreneurial goals.