Students Pitch Social Benefit Business Ideas

Olivia DrakeMay 17, 20208min
Be Better
Blake Northrop ’22, won the Wesleyan COLLISION Spring 2020 pitch competition on May 5 with his venture, Be Better, a clothing brand focused on producing sustainable products.

A clothing brand that promotes education and discussion of mental health and wellness is the winner of the Wesleyan COLLISION Spring 2020 pitch competition sponsored by the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Created by Blake Northrop ’22, Be Better consists of the clothing brand itself—which highly values customer participation and artist collaboration—as well as an online community forum for followers and members to connect, discuss, and share their stories about mental health.

On May 5, Northrop and more than dozen other aspiring student entrepreneurs pitched their social benefit business ideas. Watch a recording of the Pitch Night online here.

Students who pitched their ideas are enrolled in the Spring 2020 Center for the Study of Public Life 239 course: Startup Incubator: The Art and Science of Launching Your Idea. The Startup Incubator class, taught by Rosemary Ostfeld ’10, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies and public policy, is a one-semester, experiential learning program designed to teach and enable student entrepreneurs to develop sustainable business models from their ideas. Students learned to test business assumptions, identify target markets, and develop a sustainable business model.

“The students did a fantastic job sharing their ideas, and the virtual pitch event was well attended by members of the community and alumni, including mentors and alumni guest speakers who worked with the students during the semester,” Ostfeld said.

This course is offered by the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship and reSET, a Hartford-based nonprofit whose mission is to advance the social enterprise sector, with support from CTNext. The pitch night event was hosted by the PCSE, the MEWS+ (affiliated with the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce), and reSET Social Enterprise Trust.

Additional pitches included:

unlock debate
Jackson Eighmy ’21 pitched his social platform Unlock Debate, which is designed to connect people through political ideas, rather than divide them. It will feature three key sections: a discussion platform, where topic threads are split up by issue; live user input polls attached to each topic thread; and real-time heat maps where the feedback from the user input polls will be plotted to track public opinion. Eighmy placed second in the pitch competition.
Jennifer Ledezema ’20, a Mexican-American, pitched her family-owned business, Vida Doce, which means “sweet life” in Portuguese. Vida Doce is a dessert food truck that provides sweets from Brazilian and Mexican cultures. Vida Doce is on target to become an LLC by December 2020.
Eli Haynes ’21 presented a pitch for Saplings, a company dedicated to the development of emissions reductions projects for big polluters. Saplings aims to develop emissions reductions plans for companies in order to generate carbon credits.
Mathew Gill ’23, Brinton Thomas ’23, and Samuel Jean ’23 pitched their pilot project SolarDrag Tech, which would innovate the field of oyster farming by making the harvesting practices more practical and environmentally friendly.
Saki Ohashi ’20 pitched her Japanese wellness blog, Kakikata, with the goal of helping adults adopt healthier and more balanced lifestyles, primarily through education about Japanese food, culture, and values. “I hope to remove barriers to a healthy lifestyle by empowering individuals with tools and information that may have previously been unknown to them,” she said.
Gabe Ravetz ’22, Leo Clibanoff ’22, and Shackylle Dezonie ’22 created a mobile platform called Swapperz that facilitates the buying and selling of seats during sporting events.

Kayla Enriquez ’20 and Jennifer Escobedo ’20 presented their start-up Fitness Circle, an app that provides an online space to connect, share, and support fitness enthusiasts. They aim to create accessibility for college students who are interested in a healthier lifestyle.

Daniel Smith ’21 shared his quarterback coaching platform, QBx, which offers personalized coaching to individuals in low-income areas. “We aim to expand the game and teach valuable lessons through the game of football,” Smith said.

Sherry Liang ’20 pitched her venture SmoothSale, a platform that facilitates the exchange of used items, goods, and services on college campuses. It strives to simplify processes of listing, selling, offering, trading, and buying between all members of a college community, including students and faculty. SmoothSale brings the community together to practice consumerism through methods of upcycling and waste reduction.

Siry Plume ’23 created an app called Us that categorizes college activities and includes a personalized calendar so that people can improve their time management skills and enjoy college life.

Andres Marx ’22, Jackson Curran ’21, Shayne Gallagher ’21, Logan Geller ’21, and Malcolm Roesser ’21 pitched their idea, Book, a revolutionary sports wagering platform where users bet head-to-head with their friends. Book aims to create a positive social environment for sports bettors where users can track each other’s plays and improve their records.

Read about the 2019 pitches in these Wesleyan University Magazine articles, published May 1, 2020:

StARTup Incubator: Students Learn to Launch Original Business Ideas through CSPL 239

StARTup Shark Tank: Students Pitch Next-Gen Socially Conscious Ventures