A Malian clothing line and a biodegradable ceiling–tile company — startup ideas from students — took home the largest prizes from the first Ithaca College Startup Idea Demo Day on Nov. 17 at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works.
For the past five years, a similar event, called the Business Idea Competition, was held on campus, but this year, it was renamed and moved to Rev, a local business incubator downtown, so students could network with entrepreneurs and local residents in an off-campus setting.
Most students competed in the event in teams, and each team pitched an idea for a business startup to a panel of judges composed of local and alumni business entrepreneurs. Twelve teams that gave four-minute presentations followed by four-minute Q&A sessions. Each team that presented was awarded at least $100.
The judges had $6,500 to award students. This money came from donations to the School of Business.
Aniko — the clothing line — and Myco Ceiling won the biggest prizes, and in both cases, the students were awarded the full assistance they asked for.
Freshman Ana Coulibaly, a business administration and legal studies double major, pitched Aniko, a startup clothing line featuring fashion designs from her home in Mali. She said she finds the clothing more colorful and diverse in style there and that she wants to bring this to the U.S. Coulibaly received $1,000 in financial assistance, which she said she will use to pay her mother in Mali to make about 70 designs to start the business.
“I got exactly what I was looking for,” she said. “I’m so happy. I can’t wait until I actually start working with this and then actually produce products and be on the market.”
Senior Cory Kimmel and junior Meagan Priest, both business administration majors, pitched Myco Ceiling, a startup specializing in ceiling tiles that are more environmentally friendly and can biodegrade at a faster rate than current mainstream ceiling tiles.
The panel awarded Myco Ceiling $1,240 in financial assistance and an additional Sustainability Award for $200. Kimmel and Priest plan on spending that money on participating in the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Boston and on necessary supplies.
“[I’m] really excited that we have the opportunity to move forward, and I can’t wait to see where this takes us next,” Priest said.
Attendees voted on the Audience Choice Award, which went to REDs, a store that would sell medical marijuana in Ithaca. Sophomores Wilson Fay, a legal studies and business administration double major, and Noah Aussems, a business administration major, pitched the idea.
Aussems suffers from Crohn’s disease and said he is forced to either get a “painful” injection in his stomach or take medicinal marijuana. He said he wants to create REDs because the nearest medical marijuana facility is miles away. The project received $460 from the judges and $100 for the Audience Choice Award. They will spend that money on additional research into the marijuana business.
Students in the IC Young Entrepreneurs Organization and instructor Brad Treat’s entrepreneurial innovation class pitched ideas at the competition. The event was sponsored by the business school, but students from all five schools on campus pitched ideas.
Treat said he feels the event is a great way for students to exchange their ideas with the local community.
“It wasn’t just about the money,” he said. “Many of these students are going to be able to help move their business forward because of mentorships, connections, technical know-how — things like that. And one of the things I find is that people like working with Ithaca College students.”