VILLANOVA, PA — Villanova University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) recently announced the winners of its annual Pitch Day held on April 20. Pitch Day gives students from across the University’s six schools and colleges the opportunity to showcase their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, while gaining real-world experience in building an idea from the ground up. On Pitch Day, students participated in the Villanova Student Entrepreneurship Competition (VSEC), Villanova Social Impact Competition, Ignite Change Case Competition, Villanova Virtual Reality Competition, and the Meyer Innovation Awards were presented.
“Since its inception 12 years ago, Pitch Day has expanded greatly to now include multiple competitions featuring students from diverse academic backgrounds,” said Ann Miller, the Daniel J. Hogarty, Jr. ’61 Director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Our students are budding entrepreneurs who use a multidisciplinary mindset to look for solutions to global problems. Pitch Day challenges and prepares them to be successful and collaborative entrepreneurs.”
Pitch Day features the culmination of the Villanova Student Entrepreneurship Competition (VSEC), a semester-long, interdisciplinary entrepreneurship competition open to all Villanova students. On Pitch Day, student entrepreneurs presented their original ideas and prototypes to a panel of alumni and guest judges involved in business development, investments, marketing and technology. In addition to the more than $20,000 in prizes and in-kind services awarded to student startups through VSEC, students also received invaluable feedback from mentors and advisors to help advance their ideas.
The Ignite Change Case Competition encourages students to think about how the built environment impacts issues of social justice. This year, the case challenged students to strategize ways to improve access to affordable housing, or to fresh, healthy food options. Villanova students from all colleges, class years, backgrounds and majors worked in teams to brainstorm creative solutions, which they presented to judges as part of Pitch Day. In addition to winning a grand prize total of $5,000, the first-place team was also asked to award an additional $5,000 to a non-profit of their choosing that had a significant impact on their project proposal.
Villanova University Virtual Reality Competition challenges the Villanova community to explore virtual reality and augmented reality as a medium for compelling interactive experiences that educate. Teams could create any project as long as they exclusively used virtual reality or augmented reality to shape the presentation. Some examples included games, short tours of environments, mathematical visualizations, scientific visualizations and interactive social media presentations. On Pitch Day, finalists presented their projects to judges. The grand prize winners were awarded $1,000.
Pitch Day also includes the presentation of the Meyer Innovation Awards, which were created and endowed by Patrick Meyer ’74 VSB in honor of the Meyer family (Patrick ’74, Edward ’86, and C. Paul ’30) to recognize the spirit of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship that enhances Villanova University. The Meyer Innovation Award is conferred on one graduating student who is awarded $5,000, as well as one faculty or staff member who is awarded $2,500.
Winners from the 2023 Pitch Day included:
- Grand Prize – Return to Beauty, Abby Walheim ’23 VSB
- Return to Beauty is a national B2B service that oversees the return process of beauty and cosmetic items and provides those returned items to women’s shelters across the United States.
- Second Place – MERET, Seamus Daniello ’23 CLAS
- MERER is a web-based software application for parents and educators that algorithmically generates nursery rhymes from custom information sets. A teacher simply inputs their class material and MERET analyzes the syllables, rhyme scheme and organizational structure to create a fun, unique nursery rhyme for children ages K-4.
- Third Place – NOW, Andrew Monreal ’23 CLAS, Jacob Beaudin ’23 CLAS, Jake Coppen ’23 VSB
- NOW is an app that allows users to order directly from their phone while at bars, nightclubs, stadiums and other venues. When their order is ready, the user is notified and they are directed to pick up their items. NOW will increase the volume of orders and revenue for venues, while also improving the customer experience.
- Klinger Unitas Prize – Peer Pressur, Connor McLaren ’24 COE, Santiago Foncillas ’24 VSB, Jorge Ramos Putts ’24 COE
- Peer Pressrun is a habit building app that utilizes financial incentives and social accountability to build sustainable habits.
- Crowd Choice – Return to Beauty, Abby Walheim ’23 VSB
- Halloran Social Impact Prize – Return to Beauty, Abby Walheim ’23 VSB
Student Winner: Vedant Patel ’23 CLAS
- Patel has not only extraordinary intellect and academic excellence, but he is also an innovation incarnate. He co-founded an educational company, TeachSTEAM, using LEGO as the foundational building blocks of the firm.
Faculty/Staff Winner: Virginia Smith, PhD, associate professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Dr. Smith is an expert on stormwater management who is dedicated to solving one of history’s largest problems—flooding. She uses creativity and innovation in her research, service, and teaching to create unique products, tools and solutions to address the challenges of flood management. These efforts not only advance her scholarly objectives, but also align with Villanova’s mission of teaching and serve to the global community.
First Place: Avenue Avengers ($5,000 Team Prize & Additional $5,000 Donation to Sharing Excess)
- Ella Wheller ’25 VSB, Naija Nelson ’24 COE, Isaiah Taylor ’23 VSB and Elsaid Youssef ’24 COE
Second Place: Trailblazers ($3,000 Team Prize)
- Alyane Wollery ’24 CLAS, Santiago Colon ’24 VSB, Sriya Donepudi ’26 CLAS
Third Place: JFF Team ($2,000 Team Prize)
- Jugat Singh ’26 VSB, Francisco Klingerman Carvalho ’26 VSB, Florence Schlatter ’25 CLAS
Fourth Place: Team Marshmallow
- Lily Renga ’25 VSB, Jack Posin ’24 VSB, GianLuca Moscheni ’26 VSB
Winning team 1: Mentorship and Music
- Jason Verville ’23 VSB, Noah Winton ’23 VSB, Pragya Ajmera ’23 VSB and Elizabeth Vaughn Finance ’23 VSB
- Their proposal was to strengthen the engagement with the client’s app by leveraging principles of mentorship, gamification and music.
Winning team 2: Villanova x Inner Strength Co-op
- Julia Gasarowski ’23 VSB, Zachary Marcigliano ’23 VSB, Tyler Murphy ’23 VSB, Trevor Sidlauskas ’23 VSB and Peter McGrath ’23 VSB
- They proposed a partnership between Villanova and Inner Strength in which Villanova students receive instructions on how to lead mindfulness curriculum and then volunteer with the schools and students of Inner Strength.
Winning team: Jon Sullivan ‘23 CLAS and Clayton Davis ’23 CLAS
- Clayton and Davis’ project presented a history of the Villanova campus.