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Fall Rainforest Pitch Competition Tenth Event Draws Big Crowd

A big crowd of enthusiastic supporters gathered at Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. on October 28 to cheer on brave students from UNM and NMSU who pitched their ideas and technologies for a chance to win money and other prizes from $5,000 prize pool.  The event, co-hosted by the UNM Innovation Academy and STC, is the tenth Rainforest Pitch Competition held since 2015, cumulatively spinning out an impressive 22 student companies currently in business.  The pitch competition is an opportunity for aspiring student entrepreneurs from across New Mexico to present their innovative ideas for products, services and technologies to local entrepreneurs, investors, and business professionals.  The competition is open to currently enrolled students from any university in the state of New Mexico.

In the initial round, 40 students submitted video pitches.  Judges chose 10 finalists who pitched their innovations in 60-90 second presentations in the final round at Bow & Arrow.  The audience voted for one audience choice award of $1,000.  A panel of judges (entrepreneurs, investors, and business professionals) chose 4 of the finalists for a judges’ choice award of $750 each and 5 of the participants received finalists awards of $250 each. Two participants – Sam Crooks and Ryan Meyer – also won printers from Office Depot.

STC and the Innovation Academy wish to thank the following panel of judges: Tom Chepucavage, Aspen Mesa Partners, Yun Li, VIC Technology Venture Development, and Chuck Call, Zeteo Tech, Inc.  A big thank you also to the sponsors for the event: Nusenda Credit Union for prize money, Bow & Arrow for the space, Office Depot for printer and marker prizes, and Pizza Nine for free pizza at the event!

See the list of winners in Marissa Lucero’s October 31, 2019 article, “Students enter Rainforest Pitch Competition to test business ideas,” from UNM Newsroom, reprinted below.

Students enter Rainforest Pitch Competition to test business ideas

Participating finalists take home cash prizes

By Marissa Lucero October 31, 2019

It’s the perfect opportunity to pitch a business idea in front of other entrepreneurs and win some quick cash, but during the Rainforest Pitch Competition students only have 90 seconds to convince everyone to get on board.

For the last five years, STC and Innovation Academy have sponsored the bi-annual competition that’s open to any university student in the state.

“This is the way entrepreneurship works now,” Innovation Academy Executive Director Rob DelCampo said. “Everything is boot-strapping and lean startup now.”

To apply, students are required to record and submit a 90-second video delivering an elevator pitch for their business idea. DelCampo said they’re looking for students with product ideas, crazy innovations, a genuine startup or just a desire to practice their presentation skills.

“They can get excited about innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.” – Rob DelCampo

A panel of judges will view each video submission and determine the 10 finalists who will move on to the final round.

“Everyone has seen Shark Tank, it’s the same kind of idea,” DelCampo said. “Those guys have about 90 seconds to get you interested.”

DelCampo said they receive an average of 50 applications each competition.

“Our stats, before this year, were 91 percent of the finalists have actually established businesses,” he said. “So about 9 out of 10 of these guys tonight, if the average holds, will be starting a business.”

Monday, the final round took place at Bow and Arrow Brewing. The 10 finalists presented their 90-second pitch, live, in front of a panel of judges, business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, family and friends.

“When you come to something like this, it’s so much more like the real world,” UNM Junior Nicholas Livingstone said.

“It’s pretty awesome having top-notch judges and leaders in our community here,” Hannah Russert said.

Russert, a biomedical engineering graduate student, also represented for all female students across the state, as she competed against nothing but men.

“It’s pretty awesome to take on all the guys,” Russert said. “Hopefully I’ll win the big cash prize.”

The top winner, determined by audience voting, receives a $1,000 cash prize. The judges determine an additional four winners who receive $750 and all 10 finalists receive a $250.

The 2019 Fall Pitch Competition audience choice went to team Class Bucks. The 5-member team pitched a “one-of-a kind web-based classroom economy system and classroom management tool.”

“We’re doing these types of competitions for the experience and to see what other people are doing,” Peter Gloyd said. “We’re taking this to heart and we plan to move forward with our idea.”

Audience Choice – $1,000:

Peter Gloyd, Matthew Salas, Santino Hernandez, Isai Navarrete, and Justin MacDonald

  • CLA$$ BUCKS: Class Bucks is a one-of-a-kind web-based classroom economy system and classroom management tool.

Judges’ Choice – $750:

Hannah Russert

  • Coatings Collective: Coatings Collective offers superhydrophobic coatings for numerous applications including: optics, clothing, and internal electronics.

Mostafa Peysokhan

  • TW Humidifier: TW-humidifier is a new generation of humidifiers that can work with tap water.

Luis Diego Rigales

  • Tea bag holder coaster: A coaster device designed to hold a wet tea bag to prevent tables from getting wet. It also allows tea bags to be used more than once.

George Boujaoude

  • Bitekast: A podcast listening platform advancing the way we listen to podcasts.

Finalists – $250:

Sam Crooks

  • Film site scouter: Online platform to scout and reserve film sites.

Ryan Mayer

  • Parket: Parket is an app that will allow residential homeowners to rent their unused parking spaces to drivers who are looking for a more convenient, cost-effective ways to park.

Nicolas Fierro

  • Chainlink: A B2B company specializing in blockchain technology. Chainlink helps businesses use blockchain to tell their products’ stories.

Nicholas Livingstone

  • LUNCHBOX: A self-serve ‘fast-food’ restaurant serving healthy warm and cold meals in a box.

Daniel Martinez:

  • Alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnea: An alternative, mask-free treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

DelCampo said they’re already looking forward to the Spring 2020 Rainforest Pitch Competition.

“It’s an overall great opportunity for students to share their ideas,” DelCampo said. “They can get excited about innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.”