May 19, 2020

Cottrell Center’s Business Idea Pitch Goes Virtual

Cottrell Business Pitch 2020In April, entrepreneurs from the University, Chester County high schools, and from Chester County pitched their ideas in a Virtual Fast Pitch Competition hosted by the WCU Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic, and the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce. Instead of the live pitch event traditionally held each spring, the Cottrell Center recruited judges who evaluated the projects remotely while adhering to social distancing protocols.

The annual WCU Business Idea Competition promotes creativity, idea generation, and entrepreneurship by recognizing innovative ideas for new products, services, and technology.

“We had extremely tight races with quality ideas,” notes Pattie Diggin, director of the Cottrell Center. There were 330 submissions including teams from seven high schools.

Eight finalists emerged (two in each division) from the top six teams in each division: WCU undergraduate students; WCU graduate students, alumni, faculty and staff; Chester County-based start-ups; and Chester County high school students. The teams presented virtually in two-minute pitches.

The finalists will compete on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2020, providing it is permissible at that time to host in-person events again on campus. The Business Idea Pitch will be held at the West Chester University Foundation at 202 Carter Drive in West Chester. Plans call for the finalists to prepare a five-minute pitch deck and present it live to a panel of judges. Arrangements for virtual presentations will be made for those unable to attend in person (i.e., high school and undergraduate finalists).

Teams will compete for first and second place in their respective tracks as well as for the grand prize. The first-place winner in each track will receive $1,500; second-place prize is $750. The overall competition winner will receive an additional $2,500.



WCU Undergraduates

The finalists’ concepts both address issues relevant to college students.

Honestvote: Matthew Spencer, Jacob Neubaum. A voting system designed to prevent manipulation of vote counts and assure anonymity in the process. The system is designed to recognize and quickly expose other parties who have violated voting rights.

RentDubC: Grace McDonough, Dylan Martin, Eric Garman, Samuel Gangel. A user-friendly application that provides knowledge and a voice to West Chester University first-time student renters. It educates users about leasing, insurance, and community respect.

Computer science major Jacob Neubaum of Honestvote has been here before. Last year, he and exercise science major Hally Everett (who was a nursing major in 2019) won the category with Slip Saver, a portable mat that uses embedded-sense technology to determine if a person has fallen.

Honestvote was also among the semi-finalists for the 2020 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Startup Challenge, which was held virtually on April 22. Neubaum and Spencer advanced to the top 6 through 15 competitors and presented a one-minute pitch live through Zoom.


WCU Graduate Students, Alumni, Faculty, and Staff

AFECT: Veronica Horn. The automatic flame extinguishing candle topper (AFECT) solves the problem of fire prevention and safety when candles are not extinguished properly.

PROmotion Health: Lindsey Keenan, Rachel Daltry, Kellianne Milliner. PROmotion Health is a web application that allows healthcare providers to efficiently administer any Patient Reported Outcome (PRO) measure or mental health survey to patients and athletes. The application provides automatic calculation and interpretation of scores, in easy to understand categories, to inform healthcare providers when a follow-up or referral is necessary.


Chester County Start-ups

Ram Nanotech: Rudolph Treichel, Kurt Kolasinski, John Aybar. This device addresses the need for measured drug dosing over a period of time with non-toxic material/carrier device. The current methods provide drug releases over and hours and days, but the goal is weeks and months of targeted delivery.

Pression: Adam Salamon. Pression’s Wave is a sleeve worn on each calf attached to a control box via tubing. Pression employs a smart, adaptive algorithm to apply compression only when beneficial. The device is worn for short durations and has immediate results by using smart timing algorithm to determine the precise moment between heartbeats when applying compression.


Chester County High School Students

OpTIMEmistic: Shruti Meenakshi, West Chester East High School. An app that can solve the common problem of planning your time realistically. Students from the ages of 13-24 have trouble planning out when to finish all of their assignments, while keeping up their pre-planned commitments. This app will assist students so they can organize and maximize their work output.

MYSTRETCH: Jackson Wolff, Max Miller, Great Valley High School. A major issue for athletes or active people is the risk of injuries involved in sports and exercise. Injuries can take athletes out of sports for full seasons, and disrupt life all around. Not knowing what muscles to stretch, or how to stretch them, can leave people in the dark. MYSTRETCH is an app with “Stretches Made For You.”


This year’s eighth annual WCU Business Idea Competition is sponsored by Meridian Bank, Univest, and PSECU.

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