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Two Winning Teams at 4th Annual Venture Fund Competition

Pirates Pitch 2014For the first time in its four-year history, judges selected two winning teams at Pirates Pitch, Seton Hall University’s venture fund competition.

Mary Beliveau and David Kelly, seniors in the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, won for Mazava Solar, a solar-powered mobile phone charger specifically designed for use in developing countries. Stillman School freshman Qingyu (Vito) Lu also won for his idea to open a Video Game Console Café in his hometown in Nanjing, China.

Each team will receive nearly $5,000 and business services to assist in launching their companies.

“The SCORE mentors were extremely knowledgeable and generous with both their time and experience. They were excited about our idea and eager to help. We also worked closely with Stillman School professors, who supported us every step of the way,” noted Kelly, who is also the brother to alumna, Megan Kelly, the first place winner of Pirates Pitch 2012.

On the question of how the team created the idea for Mazava Solar, Beliveau replied, “My time in Madagascar exposed me to some of the shortcomings of current approaches, and inspired me to look for a sustainable solution. David and I have always discussed our belief in free market mechanisms as the most efficient way to foster technology transfer and improve the quality of life in developing areas.”

According to the judges, the decision was based on which of the five finalist teams were the most ready to move to the startup phase. “We felt that Mazava Solar and Video Game Console Café best fit that criteria,” explained Bill Bartzak, president, CEO and founder of MD On-Line. “Further, we felt both of these business ideas were equally excellent.”

Steve Waldis, chairman and CEO, Synchronoss Technologies and a member of the Seton Hall University Board of Regents, commented, “It was amazing to see such a talented group of young men and women with ideas and business plans in all industries with truly a global approach and insight. The passion for the business shined through in their presentations.”

There was also a tie for the Audience Choice award: Mazava Solar and HorseDr.com, a web-based service to provide horse owners with more efficient and lower cost veterinarian medical care, pitched by Stillman sophomore Selene Presseller.

Joyce Strawser, dean of the Stillman School of Business commented, “I was so impressed by the quality of the business concepts and the professionalism of the students’ presentations. In talking with the teams, it was apparent that participants benefitted greatly from the mentoring provided by our entrepreneur volunteers. I especially enjoyed seeing such a range of class years and disciplines represented.”

“The Pirates Pitch contest points out how our students are channeling their creativity and passions in entrepreneurship,” said Susan Scherreik, director of the Stillman School’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. “They are seeing problems in the world and coming up with smart solutions to solve these obstacles. Also impressive is that our students are not constrained in their entrepreneurial visions by geography. Both our top winners have global business ideas.”