2020 Orange Tank Business Pitch Competition

The Martin J. Whitman School of Management hosted the sixth annual Orange Tank business pitch competition. During this year’s virtual competition, Whitman alumni and student entrepreneurs competed for $42,000 in cash prizes. Thanks to the generosity of Whitman Advisory Council member and lifetime Syracuse University Trustee John Couri ’63 (A&S), the competition’s top finisher won a $25,000 grand prize. The ventures who placed first, second and third in both the student and alumni categories also were awarded cash prizes.

2020 Orange Tank was held on Oct. 22, 2020. Check out a recording of the winning student and alumni pitches, as well as a Q&A with alumni and winners from the 2019 Orange Tank, Kelsey Davis ’19 (NEW), ’20 M.S., and Brendan O’Keeffe ’20 (iSchool), of CLLVTVE.

Grand Prize Winner:

Cloud Studio is a technology company that specializes in the Salesforce.com ecosystem. The company provides technology consulting services, building and managing Salesforce CRM/ERP systems for enterprise-level companies (including Yamaha Music). Also, Cloud Studio creates and sells software applications in the Salesforce app store (AppExchange.)

Student Winners:

Ambassadoor Technologies has two main focuses. 1) To change the way small brick-and-mortar businesses advertise on social media by providing a user-friendly, affordable service that allows any business to reach and sponsor nano-influencers easily, and 2) To provide a platform for anyone with an Instagram account, no matter the following, to become a paid influencer.

VETS2INDUSTRY: Every company has the same issues. They desire to reduce cost-per-hire to invest those dollars into their core operations. Every transitioning veteran seeks to land successfully once their career service has concluded but does not know how to properly articulate their value proposition and network to get in front of the recruiters and hiring managers looking to hire that specific highly trained demographic. VETS2INDUSTRY has a two-tiered approach to enable businesses to cut cost-per-hire, and provide consultative services to businesses to learn best practices on where to find top-tiered veteran and military spouse talent, recoup costs through Federal Tax Credits with the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), and discover how to retain this top talent through specific means of communication and actions well suited for the military employee. VETS2INDUSTRY fills that final gap by bringing those veterans and military spouses together with recruiters and business executives through four virtual-only hiring events per-year (per-company) and four virtual-only interview sessions a year (per company) in a most intimate setting, ideal for recruiting.

Juggernaut is protective sports equipment made for women. First, starting with football shoulder pads, Juggernaut will ask you a few questions about your position and specific fit preference questions. Once that is completed, Juggernaut will use your phone or computer camera to capture your measurement, similar to the M-tailor concept. Using the information provided Juggernaut will pick the shoulder pads, made with 3D printing, that best fit your size or make a custom pair just for the player. After year one, the company plans to expand to other contact sports like hockey and lacrosse. Juggernaut will be a platform for women of sports, especially women of male-dominated sports, giving them the respect and care for the relentless force they are.

Alumni Winners:

Farm to Flame Energy is addressing energy demand in developing nations with a universal solution. Developing countries (such as Nigeria) often demand more electricity than they generate. Thus home and business owners are forced to revert to natural gas and diesel generators, which operate at a cost more than double what they pay on the grid. The company answers this problem with a universal biomass solution that takes any cellulosic based waste through a patented combustion process, maximizing the energy harvested and minimizing toxic carbon emissions. Simultaneously, the company’s electricity cost is under $0.15/kWh, less than half the cost of diesel electricity. By partnering with farmers in developing nations and public works facilities in the U.S. to provide necessary feedstock for fuel. This act puts money in the fuel-supplier’s pocket, pockets, and end-user of the generator. It also allows us to create diverse jobs from supply-chain analysts to fuel-processing technicians.

Old Black Water Mobile Floating Discharge Pumping Services: Illegal marine sewage discharge (known as black water) released by private boat owners threatens the ecosystems, impairs water quality and poses a health risk to humans. The business addresses inconvenient travel and the illegal dumping of black water waste by deploying a mobile floating discharge pumping station (MFDPS). This MFDPS would provide environmentally safe black water disposal. Thus, eliminating the need for boat owners to travel to the dock and pay to remove their black water waste. This monthly or on-demand service would operate like current on-land residential waste management companies, with the critical distinction of being a mobile floating waste management solution with boat-to-boat service. This business would come to the customer, making the disposal of black water waste safe, efficient and effortless for boat owners and marinas throughout southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region.

Vees is a female golf apparel brand that provides a desperately needed fresh perspective. Made for the growing group of young golfers emerging in the sport, who reject its stereotypes and especially the existing apparel available, Vees offers fashionable and versatile streetwear-inspired designs made from sustainable, technical fabrics that support performance on and off the course – with the ultimate goal to unite a community in its brand vision to drive equality and progress for all females who play.

Orange Tank Judges:

Oriana I. Fuentes ’12 is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Emptor, Inc, a 40-person technology company offering enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS) to major global technology firms operating in Latin America. Emptor has operated since 2016 and offers automated identity checks and verifications in seven different countries. Fuentes moved to New York City after graduating from Syracuse as both a Whitman Scholar and a Syracuse Scholar. She initially worked at J.P. Morgan, first as a cross-asset trader in the bank’s Private Wealth Management division, and then for three years as an investment banker, first structuring convert¬ible bonds and equity derivatives and then as a Fintech banker. Fuentes left Wall Street in 2016 to pursue a master’s degree at Columbia University in computer science with a concentration in machine learning. In her free time, she is an avid runner and swimmer.

Ben Grubbs ’10 is the Founder and CEO of Next 10 Ventures, a venture group incubating, advising and investing in the global Creator economy from its offices in Los Angeles and Singapore. Prior to Next 10, Ben was the global director of top creator partnerships at YouTube. Ben studied marketing at Syracuse, entering the Class of 2001. A summer internship at Yahoo! in Singapore in 2000 led to a full-time position at the company in January 2001 to launch Yahoo!’s video streaming business in parts of Asia. Ben spent 15 years living and working in Asia Pacific, holding executive roles at Yahoo!, eBay, Turner Broadcasting and Google. While on campus, Ben wrote for the Daily Orange, reported news on WAER, co-developed a magazine affiliated with the Screen Actors Guild, and raised $30k in financing for a television pilot focused on the food and beverage industry in California.

Bob Hornung ’87 is an entrepreneur, company chief, and business development executive who has established and grown several successful ventures over the last twenty-five years. He specializes in creating strategic alliances with industry leaders, developing domestic and international distribution channels, analyzing market dynamics, and identifying new opportunities to maximize sustainable competitive advantages. His career began at his family’s business in Connecticut, where he developed an interest in the industry and its challenges. This interest eventually led him to enroll in the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University (formerly the Crouse Hinds School of Management), from which he earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Business Marketing. After graduating, Bob joined Industrial Sales Corp (ISC), the largest window industry sales and distribution organization in the U.S. For the next few years, he would establish partnerships and pursue various entrepreneurial ventures before developing new fenestration technology in the late 1990s. In 1993, Bob founded On-Link, a business application software company that was the first of its kind in any industry. In 1994, he founded Interactive Data Systems (IDS), an electronic catalog technology provider. After much success, On-Link and IDS merged to form On-Link Technologies Inc. in 1998. Since then, On-Link Technologies has grown into a leading e-commerce software company. After successfully raising $36 million, On-Link Technologies was purchased by Siebel Systems Inc. in August of 2000 for over $600 million. Shortly thereafter, Siebel Systems Inc. was purchased by Oracle. In 1999, Bob Hornung founded Sashlite LLC, an intellectual property firm that streamlined the window manufacturing process. The technology integrated an insulated glass spacer directly into the sash profile incorporated into any size operation. Sashlite partnered with leading companies such as H.B. Fuller Company (NYSE: FUL), Bystronic Glass, Ashland Hardware Systems, and Deceuninck North America (DAX). Sashlite was sold in 2017 in a private transaction. In 2017, Bob founded EVO Systems LLC, where he currently serves as Founder and President. EVO is the first, end-to-end distribution solutions provider serving the fenestration industry throughout the United States. EVO is considered to be one of the nation’s fastest-growing firms in its industry. The company has built an extremely robust ERP, EDI, and other sophisticated advancements to achieve this early success. In 2018, as co-founder of ISC Penn Hudson Advisory M&A, the firm originated and closed Harvey Building Products’ acquisition of Northeast Building Products. This was one of the industry’s largest acquisitions in 2018. ISC Penn Hudson M&A is a leading advisory firm in the fenestration industry offering guidance to companies dealing with macro issues and opportunities that impact their businesses. Outside of the fenestration industry, Bob currently serves as the Managing Director of Vertical Ventures, specializing in funding and managing early-stage companies.

Phil McNeill ’81 has 32 years of private equity and mezzanine investment experience and is the Managing Partner and co-founder of Farragut Capital Partners, a lower-middle market mezzanine and private equity SBIC firm with approximately $280 million in capital. In 2003, he co-founded Farragut Capital Partners’ predecessor firm, SPP Mezzanine Partners. He served as Managing Member and Chief Investment Officer of the SPP Mezzanine family of funds until the Farragut funds were formed. Mr. McNeill previously served as a Managing Director at Allied Capital Corporation, where he was co-head of Private Finance and Mezzanine and a member of the Investment Committee. Prior to joining Allied in 1993, he served as Vice President of M&T Capital Corporation, the SBIC investment division of M&T Bank. Earlier in his career, Mr. McNeill developed, founded, managed, and owned a Boston-based retail and manufacturing company and was a founding director of City National Bank of Weatherford, Oklahoma. He currently serves as a mentor to inner-city youth entrepreneurs and co-founded the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Adopt-a-Class program in 2001. Mr. McNeill holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in Finance, Accounting and Law & Public Policy from Syracuse University.