On Monday, April 17, six Monmouth students stepped up to the mic to give their best pitch about their prospective businesses. Each HawkTank finalist got ten minutes to let the audience members and judges see the value in their businesses and what sets them apart in each market. Over the last few months, these finalists have been working hard, preparing their pitches and presentations, working with mentors and The Center for Entrepreneurship on campus, and running their business while managing a full class schedule. President Patrick Leahy put it best in his opening remarks at HawkTank earlier this week, “Everywhere I have gone in my career, I’ve tried to be supportive of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial education. That commitment to entrepreneurship is real and when I came here to Monmouth we quickly rejuvenated the Center for Entrepreneurship. I am thrilled to be here at Monmouth to support entrepreneurship in this way… not only here on campus but in our community as well.” The Center for Entrepreneurship at Monmouth helps students in any way they can, HawkTank being one of them. “It’s been a privilege working with the six teams preparing for today’s event. These teams put in hundreds of hours to prepare. I admire their courage and commitment to exploring and pursuing their entrepreneurial potential,” said Alison Gilbert, the Director of The Center for Entrepreneurship.
“Since kicking off prep for HawkTank in January we’ve met at least once a week, sometimes multiple times a week and the teams did a lot of work outside of our check ins to prepare pitch ready decks that detail the problem their business is solving and how and why their business is the solution, their business’s core customer and market, their business’ unique value proposition and competitive advantage, business model and market potential, and plans for future growth,” continued Gilbert.
Watching each finalist give their pitch was quite a sight. Knowing how much pride and work they put into their businesses, it was surreal for the audience to witness what it all came down to. With a range of businesses like consumer tech, media, climate tech, e-commerce, agriculture, and waste management, each pitch was unique.
Alex Mykulyn, a junior political science student who pitched his business iCycle, a waste diversion company, stated, “These past few weeks preparing for HawkTank have seen a lot of early mornings and late nights, joined by more than a few cans of RedBull. The actual pitch was a great experience. Seeing [the judges] reaction to the idea and getting their feedback was exciting.”
Similarly, Arielle Sinicin, a senior computer science and finance student and creator of BingeWatch, a streaming and finance tracking app, expressed, “I have prepared for this pitch for the entirety of my senior year, and it was so rewarding to finally show my hard work to a crowd of my peers, community members, and esteemed judges. I went first in the program and had some technical difficulties, but I was able to bounce back and complete my presentation that was extremely well revived by the judges. I was so happy with the outcome, and it was so rewarding having the judges and audience love my ideas.
HawkTank was an amazing experience.” The hard work that these finalists put in did not go without reward. Each finalist walked away from HawkTank with a $500 check and the winner, Division One Fitness, won $2,500 to support their business.
Dylan Sara, a business administration student and one third of the HawkTank winner, Division One Fitness, a fitness media company, said, “The opportunity to present
our pitch at HawkTank proved to be an excellent experience. Ben, Griffin and I, are highly passionate about our business and were honored to be able to share our accomplishments with the Monmouth University community and staff. The judges provided us with feedback and ideas based on their own professional experience which was beneficial to us.”
“Our main goal was to make new connections and help inspire other students that you don’t have to wait until you graduate college to start your own ventures as entrepreneurs,” Sara concluded.