$1,000 of cash prizes awarded in eighth annual pitch competition
After two dozen entries from majors across campus, three student teams were awarded cash prizes for winning the top three places in the 8th annual Corsair Idea Challenge. Each of the four finalists also received a free two-month membership to the Co-Creative Center in downtown New Bedford.
Students were tasked with pitching their idea for a new product, service, or experience to a panel of three experienced judges and a live audience in less than 5 minutes, with an additional 5 minutes of Q&A. The event, founded by the Student Run Business Association in 2014, promotes innovative ideas across campus.
"Just being selected for the finals is a big accomplishment," said Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, Griffin Cottle. "We had several great submissions, and the selection process was very competitive. They should all be proud of making it this far."
Finance major Dylan Cantara '24 and electrical engineering major Christian Fall '24 took home the first-place $500 prize for Embargo, a health and wellness service they've operated for the past three years. Cantara says the organization, which provides a basketball league, podcast, and athletic apparel line, will use the $500 towards legal fees to register as an LLC, opening doors to expand their apparel line, advertising sales, and athletic services.
"This award means a lot to us," said Fall, who is also on the pre-med track. "It means there's a real need to help people get healthier, and we don't want to make that a boring process. Health levels are declining, and we think it's important to help people improve them in a fun way. Embargo does just that."
Cantara and Fall grew up together in Fairhaven, MA, and dreamed of working together to come up with a fun outlet towards holistic health and wellness before entering college. Now with four years of business, engineering, and pre-med educations between them, the duo sees a real, profitable path towards their goal.
"After establishing ourselves as an LLC, our next steps are getting our social media channels, podcast, and clothing line up and running," said Cantara. "We're also adding a women's league and growing our number of teams and sponsors," added Fall. "There's a lot up next, and we're excited to get moving on it."
The duo's grand plan includes their own facility, which will stand out from local gyms, YMCAs, and youth sports centers by offering advanced holistic health and wellness devices, like cryotherapy, red light therapy, and more, alongside courts for basketball leagues and other sports.
Fall also took home the $300 second-place prize alongside bioengineering major Logan Bento '24, for their product, Cold Red, a device that incorporates both cold therapy and red light therapy to combine two known ways to boost healing into a single device to maximize recovery.
Bento explained that red light, which makes up 40% of sunlight, gives direct energy to our mitochondria for increased energy production. Cold therapy causes mitochondria to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to generate heat. Put together, the device aims to decrease both short-term and long-term pain in one healing device.
The pair hopes this product can help trauma patients, athletes, and people looking for a general solution to everyday pain. Judges remarked Cold Red could also be implemented within Embargo's line of therapeutic devices.
Junior marketing major Jhania Johnson '25 and Kendall Ramos, who was unable to attend, won third place for their prototype, the Campus One-Stop app. The app provides a centralized location for student entrepreneurs to market their businesses and connect with potential customers who want to shop locally.
The app's goal is twofold: Provide student entrepreneurs with access to a large and diverse set of customers, and help them grow their brand off campus when students go back to their respective hometowns. Johnson hopes to start at UMass Dartmouth, then scale this system to other universities.
"A big congratulations to all four of the finalists. What they did wasn’t easy," said Cottle. "It's one thing to come up with an innovative idea, but another to actually build it out and present it to a panel of judges in a room full of people. They did a great job."
Judges for the event were Dan Moriarty, program director at EforAll (Entrepreneurship for All) South Coast, founder and director of the Co-Creative Center, and Melissa Langham, board secretary for T.R.U.E. Diversity.
The event was made possible thanks to individual donations from Peter de Silva, Maria Furman and Jacob Miller, and sponsorships from the Co-Creative Center in downtown New Bedford.