University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content

News and views for UB faculty and staff

Competition winners take big ideas to small screens

Published April 24, 2014

Two business ideas for smartphone apps took first place and a prize of $1,000 each in UB’s second annual Elevator Pitch Competition.

Undergraduate computer science students Joel Little and Robert Barber took one of the first-place prizes for their idea for Ethos Studios, which would produce customized, mobile video games for business marketing. Undergraduate accounting student Brittany Popovski was the other first-place winner for ULock, an app that would lock students out of their cell phones so they can focus on studying.

The winners stood out among nearly 60 UB undergraduate and graduate students who pitched business ideas with novel solutions to real-world challenges. They had just 90 seconds to convince a panel of expert judges without the use of notes, slides or other visual aids.

Second-place prizes of $500 each were awarded for pitches from Andrew Harris, Fred Lee, Anish Paul Anthony and David Murphy-Longhini.

Third-place winners Prince Joseph, Geoffrey Gallson, Hosein Kerdar, Evan Cerasani and Thiru Vikram Suresh each received a prize of $200.

“The pitch competition is part of a growing effort at UB to promote entrepreneurship, to realize the promise of UB 2020 and to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Western New York,” says Yong Li, academic director of UB’s Entrepreneurship Academy and associate professor of operations management and strategy in the School of Management.

The competition, which took place on April 16, was sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Academy, the School of Management and the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR). Prizes were supported by the Bruce Holm Memorial Catalyst Fund.

Judges for the competition were Andrew Shaevel, founder and CEO of Bobalew Ventures; Oded Spindel, senior venture analyst at Excell Partners; Robert Shaw, president of Superior Constructors Inc.; Diane McMahon, entrepreneurial services lead in the National Grid Program at UB’s New York State Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences; and Neil Arnold, angel investor at Western New York Venture Association.