Friday, June 2, 2023

NFA Students Join College Peers to Pitch Ideas for New Businesses

High school students from Newburgh Free Academy joined college students from Mount Saint Mary, Vassar, Marist, and beyond in learning how to think like a startup company. The students then pitched ideas for new businesses and earned awards.

The second annual Techstars Startup Weekend Newburgh was hosted by Mount Saint Mary College earlier this month, where dozens of young entrepreneurs cultivated their ideas for new, unique businesses.

The participants formed teams, developed their business ideas, and gave their pitches to the judges, all in a span of about two and a half days. Teams also had the opportunity to attend helpful workshops over the course of the weekend, hosted by more than a dozen local business leaders.

The winning teams presented the following ideas for new businesses:

  • Desk2Go: a backpack that doubles as a desk on the go.
  • Echo: a cybersecurity penetration testing service for small and medium businesses.
  • Olympic Dream Team: In Verse: a meta-verse-based system for communications/speech coaching.

Judging the teams’ ideas were Mike Oates from the Hudson Valley Economic Development, Heather Bell from the Orange County Chamber, and Tony Scardillo, a Mount business professor. On the day of the judging, Oates and Bell sponsored a second and third place prize.

This year’s Techstars Startup Weekend Newburgh was co-coordinated at the Mount by Micah Modell, assistant professor of Information Technology; Stephen Sosler, director of Major Gifts; Lee Fothergill, professor of Mathematics; Margaret Treacy ’13, Career Counselor; and Candace White, director of Student Engagement. Also aiding in the effort are Kori Rogers of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District; Laura Garcia of Newburgh Free Library; and Ethan Bagley, facilitator.

“Everyone had some really great ideas,” said Modell. “This was an opportunity to put what the students have learned in their classrooms to use in a hands-on situation, and they all did a fantastic job.”

He added, “This experience can show that it’s very possible to be an entrepreneur and the building blocks of how to do that.”

Domenic Baiocco, a Sales Team Leader and Commercial Lender from Wallkill Valley Federal Savings and Loan, was the event’s keynote speaker. Baiocco discussed a variety of useful financial tips that could help get a new business off the ground.

Mount alumna Laura Picone and Stephanie Cornell, Senior Relationship Managers and Vice Presidents at TD Bank, served as mentors to the participants over the course of the weekend.

The event was sponsored by TD Bank, Advance Testing, The Mobile Pub, and Ulster Savings.

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