Stillman News

Startup Boot Camp Jumpstarts Student Businesses

By Matthew Radman
Stillman News Writer

Twenty students participated in the Great Minds Entrepreneurship Boot Camp this past August (Photo courtesy of Matthew Radman)

The Fall 2019 semester began a little earlier for twenty outgoing student entrepreneurs who competed in an energetic pitch competition as part of this year’s inaugural Great Minds Entrepreneurship Boot Camp summer experience. As a participant in this program, I can share my experience from a first-hand perspective.

The Entrepreneurship Great Minds program was one of a dozen programs that were offered and sponsored through a wide array of schools and colleges at Seton Hall; all with specific focuses. Other programs offered include the Blue Courage Inclusive Leadership Institute, Cybersecurity and Digital Skills for the 21st Century Student, to name a few. The programs are the culmination of a joint effort between Provost Karen Boroff and the deans of the various schools; the Entrepreneurship program was sponsored by Dean Joyce Strawser of the Stillman School of Business.

Held from Sunday evening August 18 through Thursday afternoon August 22, students worked in teams to brainstorm innovative ideas, create business models and prototypes, and then pitch their business models before a panel of seasoned judges. Successful alumni, entrepreneurs and mentors were on hand to assist and guide students through pertinent presentations and hands-on helping. Students ranged from Freshmen to Seniors and represented various colleges at Seton Hall. The speakers, mentors, and judges included Alissa Lopez, Patrick, Bryan Jakovcic, Karen Pisciotta, Stephanie Caravela, Peter Tu,Abe Kasbo, and Professor Susan Scherreik, all of whom have made significant strides in the field.

Participating students spent four days learning from a dynamic network of alumni, entrepreneurs, and some of the brightest business minds from across many industries. All the while, they were tasked to work in groups to think up and prototype a startup business that they would pitch to a panel of judges. One of the many hands-on activities was customer discovery in which students would interview prospective customers and gather feedback. The entrepreneurs were off the races, talking to consumers around campus and throughout the South Orange community. The experience honed listening and feedback reception skills while trying to understand customer needs from a first-person perspective.

The program got off to a fast start, and that momentum energized everyone involved and created a collaborative, creative environment. “Being in the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp not only introduced me to the skills necessary to build a successful business but opened me up to connecting with students, freshmen to seniors. The boot camp was undoubtedly the perfect transition into my first semester here at Seton Hall!” – RoseMary Stanchak (Freshman, 3+3 B.S. in Biology/Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Founder of Poppin’ cake pops and Fresh Baked by Rosie [Instagram: freshbaked_byrosie]). RoseMary had already gotten a taste of entrepreneurship at Seton Hall last November when as a high school senior, she won first place in the 2018 Seton Hall University Pirates Pitch contest for High School students.

The students had the opportunity to put their hard work on display in the form of a pitch which they presented in front of an expert panel of judges. After pitching, the students moved to another room and anxiously awaited the results of the competition. As the judges began filing in, participants’ gazes shot like laser pointers in their direction. Each judge took a moment to congratulate the whole group and talked about how they did. The anticipation finally broke when the online pet boarding platform, PawCasa, was announced the winner.

For its inaugural year, the Great Minds Entrepreneurship Boot Camp got off to a momentous start; empowering students to think outside the box and turn their creativity into a reality. The program is expected to continue next summer, with applications being posted closer to then.


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