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13th Annual SmartPitch Challenge Gives Innovative New York City Students The Opportunity To Launch Their Own Business

Students Hard at Work



NEW YORK, NY-March 10, 2015 -Student entrepreneurs from throughout New York City will compete in the 13th Annual CUNY IVE SmartPitch Challenge, hosted by Baruch College, the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship and the City University of New York (CUNY) Center for Student Entrepreneurship (CSE). The SmartPitch Challenge provides student entrepreneurs the opportunity to create and validate a business concept, pitch their idea and follow a business plan to ultimately launch their own business. The competition, which kicked off on January 30 includes $40,000 in prizes for the winning teams and a valuable mentorship experience with professionals in their field. The winners of the 13th Annual CUNY IVE SmartPitch Challenge will be announced on June 4.

What Participants Are Saying So Far

Throughout the duration of the competition, student entrepreneurs attend co-working sessions that provide a supportive environment to discuss ideas in a community of like-minded students and entrepreneurs. SmartPitch participants are finding the competition to be an unparalleled learning experience.

“I feel like I’ve learned so much already.” said Gino Tarabotto, an Economics and Political Science major at Baruch College. “It feels like an MBA course in starting my own business, even though I’m still an undergraduate student.”


Sebastian Maracano

Sebastian Maracano (Fashion Institute of Technology)

Business Idea: An innovative sneaker accessory that goes onto your sneaker and changes its design

“I got involved with SmartPitch because it gave me the chance to meet mentors; people who can validate your idea or not. Having that experience, that exposure was what interested me most in this competition.”


Erika and Sebastian

Ericka Smith (Baruch College)

Business Idea: A transportation service company geared toward seniors and the disabled

“This idea all started a few years ago. My mom is disabled and it was difficult for me to find a service that could get her to the airport. I’m sure that other people have this problem and it’s not just me. There’s a gap in the market to get seniors and the disabled safely to the airport. There is no service that can do that and I want to help provide a solution. SmartPitch can help with that.”


Alexander Khom and Erika Sanchez

Alexander Khom and Erika Sanchez (Fordham University)

Business Idea: “The Hang NY” A website for college students in New York City

“It took us a long time to start, but we’re making a lot of progress.” said Alexander. “I had everything in my head,” added Erika, “but SmartPitch helped me to get it down on paper and make it clearer. I participated last year, but this time we’re here to make it an actual business.”


Sponsor and Prizes

The Verizon Foundation, the competition’s sponsor, is providing financial support for this year’s SmartPitch Challenge, including $40,000 in prizes for the winning teams. Verizon will also offer mentors to provide infrastructure, marketing, and general business management support to the teams.

The best teams will be invited to present their concepts at the SmartPitch Challenge finale on June 4 and compete for $40,000 in prizes. The Grand Prize Winner receives $15,000; Education Track Winner receives $5,000; Healthcare Track winner receives $5,000; Sustainability Track Winner receives $5,000; and the Smarter Cities Track Winner receives $5,000. The Most Innovative App (with Beta) Winner receives $3,000 and Fan Favorite Winner receives $2,000.



About Baruch College:
Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 18,000 students, who represent 164 countries and speak more than 129 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 4 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world. For more about Baruch College, go to



Manny Romero, (646) 660-6141,
Mercedes Sanchez, (646) 660-6112,
Evelisse Luciano, (646) 660-6134,

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