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Ron J. Williams, CEO of Knodes to Speak at SmartPitch Competition Kick-Off Event


NEW YORK, NY-January 30, 2013 Ron J. Williams, CEO and Co-founder of Knodes, will be the keynote speaker at the 11th Annual SmartPitch Challenge kick-off event from 9 a.m. to noon, February 1 at Baruch College.

This spring, a diverse set of young entrepreneurs from U.S. colleges and universities will compete in the 11th Annual SmartPitch Challenge, hosted by Baruch College and IBM. The competition, which celebrates New York City as a center for innovation and new business development, gives student entrepreneurs an opportunity to create and validate a business concept, pitch their idea and follow a business plan to ultimately launch their business.

The competition kicks off Feb. 1 at Baruch College in room 14-220 of the Vertical Campus, with a reception featuring remarks by Williams, other business entrepreneurs, educators and mentors. A series of supporting events will be hosted throughout the challenge that will lead up to the formal SmartPitch competition scheduled on June 6. A list of events and updates can be found on Facebook and their Social Networking Site.

Ron J. Williams, a Brooklyn native, was recently named one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company. In 1998, he graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics and East Asian studies. In 2010, Williams launched SnapGoods, a site which makes it simple to rent high end gear like cameras and home improvement equipment. In 2011, he and co-founder John Goodwin, launched Knodes, a platform that analyzes social signals to drive highly effective social recruiting, engagement & marketing campaigns; with a special focus on crowd funding and anything P2P. Before co-creating SnapGoods and Knodes, Williams spent time running a successful test prep business and investing other people’s money in education tech businesses.

The SmartPitch Challenge is a partnership of the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise (IVE), the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College and IBM. SmartPitch is the culmination of a Virtual Incubation process that invites student entrepreneurs to develop, pitch, validate and launch business ideas in a social networking environment.

The CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise (IVE) was a pioneer when it launched a social networking platform to provide virtual mentoring and resources for student entrepreneurs in 2007. During the SmartPitch Competition, this platform will serve as the virtual co-working space to engage mentors, ask experts and find peer support. In addition, there will be a series of face-to-face support events, workshops, and roundtables leading to the SmartPitch Challenge competition on June 6, where student entrepreneurs will make their presentations “pitches” and compete against other U.S. universities and colleges. The best teams will be invited to present their concepts at the SmartPitch Event on June 6, 2013 and compete for $8,500 in prizes. 1st Place team receives $5,000; 2nd Place receives $2,500; and 3rd Place receives $1,000. The top five winning teams will be selected to participate in a virtual business incubator ending with the launch of their concepts. The incubator includes: entrepreneurship boot camp, incubator space, expert IBM mentorships, access to the entrepreneurship network in virtual and real space, and access to stipends and angel investors. The winners will also present their new businesses in the fall, 2013 and be recognized as IVE Fellows in a continuing support network.

“SmartPitch is an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to explore their creativity, innovate and create a business. This competition is a celebration of entrepreneurship and an opportunity to realize the American dream of launching a business. Baruch is creating the next generation of innovative business leaders,” said Dr. Stuart Schulman, Professor of Management and Executive Director, CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise.


About Baruch College:

Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 17,000 students, who represent 160 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 5 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



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