On Oct. 22, 2020, the Martin J. Whitman School of Management hosted the sixth annual Orange Tank business pitch competition virtually. Student and alumni entrepreneurs pitched their ventures to a panel of accomplished judges in hopes of receiving valuable feedback and winning a cash prize to advance their ideas further. Thanks to the generosity of Whitman Advisory Council member and lifetime Syracuse University Trustee John Couri ’63 (A&S), the cash prizes for the event totaled a record $42,000.
As part of this year’s virtual event, grand prize winners of last year’s Orange Tank competition Kelsey Davis ’19 (NEW), ’20 M.S., founder and CEO of CLLVTVE, and Brendan O’Keeffe ’20 (iSchool), chief operating officer of CLLCTVE, joined for a Q&A session during the judges’ deliberations.
Davis explains her experience after Orange Tank and graduation. She also leaves current entrepreneurs working on their ventures with advice, “Stay humble and grounded. Continue to be lifelong learners. Having a network of mentors and advisors that can provide feedback and hold you accountable, as well as be your champions.”
Whitman awarded the grand prize of $25,000 to Joseph Rishe ’10 of Cloud Studio, a technology company specializing in the Salesforce.com ecosystem. The company provides technology consulting services, building and managing Salesforce CRM/ERP systems for enterprise-level companies (including Tamaha Music.)
“For me, winning the grand prize at Orange Tank 2020 was such a life high. This business is something I’ve been dreaming about and building for the last five years. To have it validated in this way means a lot,” says Rishe. “I intend to use the prize money to bolster the early 2021 launch (marketing) of our Salesforce AppExchange app, which helps administrators manage their Salesforce org more efficiently.”
In the student category, Bruno Gonzalez Hauger ’21 (WHIT/NEW) and Marco Gonzalez Hauger (business partner) won the first place prize of $5,000. Their company, Ambassadoor Technologies, focuses on changing the way small brick-and-mortar businesses advertise on social media and is a platform for anyone with an Instagram account to become a paid influencer.
Brian Arrington ’20 MBA, ’20 M.S., took home the second place prize of $2,500. His company, VETS2INDUSTRY, a company with a two-tiered approach to enable businesses to cut cost-per-hire costs and provide consultative services to businesses to learn best practices on where to find top-tiered veteran and military spouse talent. Third place of $1,000 went to Juggernaut, a protective sports equipment company made for women, founded by Mashundra Maclin ’20 MBA.
The first-place prize in the alumni category of $5,000 cash went to Tommy Powell ’20 MBA, Chris Snedeker ’20 MBA, Daniel Hobbs ’20 MBA and Joshua Winkler ’20 MBA of Old Black Water. 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 company addresses the problem of the illegal dumping of black water waste.
Second place and $2,500 in the alumni category was awarded to Kwaku Jyamfi ’18 (ECS), of Farm to Flame Energy, a company addressing energy demands in developing nations with a universal solution. Victoria Vasil ‘97 (NEW), ’20 MBA, ’21 M.S., took home a $1,000 third place prize for her company, Vees, a female golf apparel brand that provides a fresh perspective for young golfers.
(Watch the winning pitches from Orange Tank 2020.)
“This year’s competition had many excellent submissions, and it was difficult to pare it down to our finalists. The finalists’ concepts and presentations were very impressive this year, which I think speaks to the quality of our entrepreneurial ecosystem at Whitman and across the Syracuse University campus,” says John Torrens, deputy department chair and professor of entrepreneurial practice.
Judges included Oriana I. Fuentes ’12, Ben Grubbs ’10, Bob Hornung ’87 and Phil McNeill ’81.
Are you interested in learning how you can get your ideas off the ground? Or do you need assistance moving your business venture to the next level? Learn more about Whitman and Syracuse University’s student entrepreneur resources: Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship and the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University.