(Photo courtesy of Suneil Harzenski)
Last week, a rocket took off in Wilmington.
The Charter School of Wilmington’s Entrepreneurship Club hosted its second annual CharterLaunch pitch event, welcoming new competitors from Newark Charter, MOT Charter and Odyssey Charter School.
The afternoon event hosted experienced judges including Y Innovations cofounder Brennan Stark, Peter Fomin of the UD Entrepreneurship Club, Delaware Entrepreneurship League (DEL) founder Markos Zerefos and Keyhole Games founder Mike Shumate.
Zerefos, also the former president of Charter’s Entrepreneurship Club, kicked off the event with a pitch of his own — for DEL, a new organization he cofounded with current club President Nicholas Ulizio and VP Chris Kontomaris for young entrepreneurs.
DEL “exists to start and unify clubs similar to CSW’s E Club across the state of Delaware,” Ulizio said. The organization started at the Charter School of Wilmington, but has expanded to Newark Charter, MOT Charter and soon Archmere Academy.
The CharterLaunch competition serves young, local entrepreneurs via a “Shark Tank“-like experience. Through pitching their ideas, participants received meaningful judge feedback after their five-minute presentations.
This year the competition took a different format: All of the presenters pitched their ideas for the shot to be in a final questions round with the judges. Seven pitches were made (with descriptions provided by the competitors):
- Dominic Mazzola and Hiren Walia, with Game Rite — A service that offers both a retail service that allows consumers to both rent or purchase video games
- Apuroop Mutyala, Aniketh Aula and Shubh Desai with LANOS — Aka Leadership And Networking Opportunities for Students, a project that allows students to find new leadership, development, and service opportunities that they may not have known about before through an online platform
- Dorcas Olatunji (me!) with t² — Aka “transforming transportation,” an app aiming to make the lives of the citizens in the school community efficient, to motivate community building, and to decrease traffic buildup on local roads
- Sam Ashley and Abhinav Parbhikar with Premier String Art — A company producing and selling handmade string art made from wood with nails placed in a design chosen by its customers
- Shreyas Ravichandar, Rishith Ramamurthy, Sai Adhityan Babu and Srish Chenna with Insugel — A product that focuses particularly on targeted insulin delivery, a method of administering medicine to a certain part of the body and avoids relying on blood circulation to deliver the medication
- Udeerna Tippablatha, Chris Kontomaris and Jinay Jain with Vector — A delivery service for packages using hubs and hiring users such as Uber
- Dominik Gul with CrypBit — An online marketplace in which users can buy and sell items by using the evolving cryptocurrency market
After a brief networking session, profile headshots and judge deliberation, the event ended with keynote speaker Stark, who also serves as a mentor for the teen biz program Schoolyard Ventures. He encouraged the competitors to continue their ideas and concepts in an incubation program over the summer.
Vector was announced as CharterLaunch’s second-ever winner. The founders received a $35 cash prize.
“We’re looking to expand the prize pool to include several sponsors and increase promotion/marketing for the event,” Ulizio said. “Next year, we’re going to invite more of DEL’s schools to CharterLaunch and expand the range of activities, [and it] should be the biggest yet.”-30-
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