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Two Stillman School of Business undergraduate students — Luke Tyler, a sophomore majoring in finance and minoring in computer science, and Mariam Bsharat, a junior majoring in finance, marketing and entrepreneurship — are representing the University in the fifth annual statewide UPitchNJ contest. The students, who were this year’s winners in Seton Hall University’s Pirates Pitch startup competition, co-founded Edith, a digital workforce management software which will help companies boost productivity by tracking early signs of employee burnout.
UPitchNJ is being held jointly this year with Nokia Bell Labs. The final round of the innovative statewide collegiate business model competition will be livestreamed on Friday, May 1, from 2:00 to 4:30. New Jersey’s college students, faculty, alumni, friends and the public are all invited to watch virtually. For more information, visit the contest website at www.upitchnj.org.
Marcus Weldon, president of Nokia Bell Labs and corporate chief technology officer, of Nokia, will deliver a keynote address to kick off the event. Select student teams will then pitch their startups in a live format to a panel of judges as they compete for cash prizes. Serving as judges are Weldon and four additional Nokia Bell Labs senior executives.
“Nokia Bell Labs has been at the center of New Jersey’s tech innovation for more than 90 years, and I am excited about the role we play today supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the wider community, including in the UPitchNJ contest, which comprises innovative ideas and concepts coming from students from some of the most renowned universities in the world — all based in New Jersey,” Weldon said.
“We are extremely grateful to Marcus Weldon and Nokia Bell Labs for this extraordinary and innovative collaboration,” said Susan Scherreik, chair of UPitchNJ and founding director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Seton Hall University. “UPitchNJ showcases the best and brightest young entrepreneurs from all over the Garden State.”
Tyler and Bsharat said they are thrilled to participate in the UPitchNJ competition. “It is definitely an honor to represent Seton Hall University that is home to the entrepreneurial spirit,” Tyler said. The students have been working on refining their business model for Edith. A big help, they said, has been the unique opportunity to work with Nokia Bell Labs senior executives, who are serving as mentors to all of the student teams. “Working with a very notable mentor has been a remarkable experience,” Tyler said. “It allowed us to gain more clarity on how our service should function.” Bsharat added that she is looking forward to being in a contest with so many other great schools. Also, “I’m grateful to be working with Luke Tyler, representing Seton Hall. We wouldn’t be where we are without the support of the Entrepreneurship Center and Professor Scherreik.”
Other New Jersey universities competing in the competition include Fairleigh Dickinson University, Kean University, Montclair State University, New Jersey City University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Rutgers University and Saint Peter’s University.
Student teams will be judged on the innovation and originality of their startup idea and quality of their oral presentations. The contest judges will also be looking for creative and innovative thinking about markets, products and services. The student teams will be evaluated on their perceived ability to execute the idea and turn it into a viable, profitable business, and/or venture with significant social value.
Seton Hall University’s participation in UPitchNJ is being coordinated by the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Stillman School of Business. The Center is a driver of entrepreneurship on campus, including sponsoring startup competitions, entrepreneurship workshops, startup coaching and mentoring, an entrepreneurship boot camp and a summer startup venture accelerator program.