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Student Entrepreneurs Shine at Queens Pitch Competition

Mar 28, 2024 By Queens University Communications

Now in its sixth year, the Queens Pitch Competition opened its doors to a new generation of entrepreneurs. Students from all academic backgrounds and levels were invited to compete for a shot at up to $5,000 in prize money for their innovative business ideas. This year marked a first for the competition, as the Queens University McColl School of Business and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Circle (ELC) welcomed graduate students to participate. This year saw a strong applicant pool of 28 students from various disciplines, with only seven finalists making it to the final round.

“The Pitch Competition has become one of my favorite traditions at Queens. It truly builds upon the entrepreneurial spirit of our students and aligns with the goals of our multi-disciplinary curriculum,” said Queens University President Dan Lugo. “We thank the Entrepreneurial Leadership Circle for their invaluable partnership. Queens is so fortunate to have their support throughout the entire process.”

This year’s graduate school winner was MBA student Ingrid Collazos ‘24 who pitched the Ikigai Center, a mission-focused program aimed at enhancing student success through personalized mentoring and tutoring while fostering a sense of purpose and wellbeing. Collazos’ program would use a holistic approach, accessible to everyone, which addresses academic, vocational, and mental health needs.

“As someone who works in the public education system in Mecklenburg County, I know there is a need for a program like the Ikigai Center,” said Collazos. “The statistics about suicide rates are alarming, and as someone who has lost a student, this project is very near to my heart. I look forward to using my prize money to recruit a network of mentors and mental health professionals who can help these students overcome their challenges.”

The undergraduate winner was Isaiah Dennis ’25 who pitched an idea to alleviate the affordable housing crisis called Green House Solutions LLC. Dennis shared his vision of increasing homeownership through a targeted first-time homebuyer program and revitalizing communities through innovative residential and property management. His mission? To transform challenged neighborhoods into thriving communities.

“I love the competition and the entire process which culminated with my pitch presentation,” said Dennis. “The coaching that was provided to me was invaluable. I wasn’t sure where to start at first, but my mentor provided me with the guidance I needed to help me structure my ideas into a successful pitch. The Pitch Competition was a great trajectory for me to bounce off of. I see a lot more to come in my future.”

Coming in second place in the graduate student division was Geordea Herron with CherriGlo, a subscription-based wellness and care package company providing items for all. In third place was Anna Prokos with Halt + Help, an idea to connect seniors with a network of trusted helpers for errands and light work around the house, and more.

In the undergraduate division, both Taylor Leë Andorfer ‘24 and Eden Pescara ‘24 tied for second place. Andorfer pitched EntreprenuerHER, a resource for women entrepreneurs with a focus on wellbeing and balance, and empowerment, while Pescara pitched SwimFluence, a platform that provides resources for athletes to thrive while training so that they can reach their full potential. Emile Noyer ‘26 came in third place with her concept of RunCaféClub, a platform for athletes in need of community, connectivity, and support while socializing over coffee.

There was a tie for The People’s Choice Award winners between Andorfer and Pescara.

“Adding graduate students as competitors had an interesting effect on our undergrads,” said Oscar Barzuna Hidalgo, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and data analytics. “It provided a healthy level of competition and gave them inspiration for all they can accomplish as graduate students. Throughout the years, I’ve seen an evolution of our competitors, they are becoming more skillful presenters and I look forward to what next year will bring.”

This year’s judges included Rochelle Rivas, North Highland; Barrett Pack, DualBoot; Ashley Gautreaux, Creative Co Capital; Natalie Brown, Ally Financial; and Kevin Carney, Kingsmen Software. The event was sponsored by Dualboot Partners, Derek and Wenwen Wang, RevTech Labs, E-Fix Development Corp, Kingsmen Software, Rockefeller Global Family Office, Ally Financial, Tabbris, North Highland, Jackrabbit Technologies, and CreativeCo.

For more information, visit the Queens Pitch Competition website.