Kuhn ’13, Pasricha ’13 win Princeton Pitch; team of three freshmen wins social entrepreneurship category
Carla Javier | The Daily Princetonian | 2 December 2012
The developers of “11th Hour Tutors,” an online service that would pair students in need of immediate problem set assistance with graduate students capable of helping them, won $1,000 Friday night at the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club’s annual Princeton Pitch event.
More than 250 people gathered in Dodds Auditorium for the event, an elevator-pitch competition in which competitors are given one minute or less to pitch a business idea to a panel of judges. Winners in one of two tracks — social entrepreneurship or for-profit entrepreneurship — are given $1,000.
“You have 60 seconds to pitch your idea,” E-Club codirector of competitions Farhan Abrol ’14 explained to the crowd minutes before the competition. “That is a hard time limit, a buzzer will sound, and we will move on to the next group. Best of luck.”
This year, the Princeton Social Entrepreneurship Initiative joined E-Club in planning the event, which was sponsored by Insight Venture Partners, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Keller Center and ReachOut 56-81, which gives out fellowships to graduating seniors for yearlong service projects.
In total, 42 teams registered to pitch, and 31 teams pitched at the actual event.
Judges included Phin Barnes of First Round Capital, Bert Navarrete of TigerLabs, Keller Center professor John Danner; Brian Trelstad of the Acumen Fund, Katherine O’Neill of JumpStart New Jersey Angel Network and Bryan Gartner ’08 of Insight Venture Partners.
Abrol explained that the judges were judging specifically for the value of the idea pitched, explanation of the potential market for the idea, its business model, and how the pitch was presented.
The winning pitch in the entrepreneurship track, “11th Hour Tutors,” was developed by Tierney Kuhn ’13 and Kanika Pasricha ’13.
In their pitch, Kuhn described the conundrum of encountering an unsolvable problem on a problem set due the next day. 11th Hour Tutors, she said, could help alleviate this problem by instantly linking students with graduate students who could help them. With over 20 grad students already on board, a student could pay $10 per question and, within 15 minutes, a grad student would walk them through the answer online.
Kuhn described the business model, noting that graduate students would be paid $5 per question, yielding a 50-percent profit margin.
The $1,000 prize, Kuhn said, would go toward launching the site at local universities like Rutgers.
The $250 audience choice prize in the entrepreneurship category went to Ash Egan ’14, John Urbanik ’13, Jae Lee ’14, Mehmet Basbug GS and Brendan Andrade GS, who developed a company called “Beertending,” which would allow people to participate in craft beer tastings in local bars.
Matthew Silver ’16, Lawrence Yu ’16 and Sunny Feng ’16 won the $1,000 prize in the social category for an online tutoring service called “Magnet” that would encourage learning by rewarding students to seek out tutoring.
“Magnet is a online peer-to-peer tutoring system that gives students the rewards they want,” Silver said as he pitched to the judges and audience. In his pitch, Silver explained students would win points for getting tutored through the website. Points could then be spent on prizes, all at no cost to the student.
To make this possible, Silver said Magnet would generate advertising revenue for ads from education-related businesses like the Princeton Review.
“Magnet will help us get our students back on track,” Silver closed. “All we need is for you to follow us.”
Trevor Klee ’15 pitched “Permanent Protection,” a non-latex condom, within the social track. In his pitch, Klee noted that condoms are mostly made of latex, but many individuals are allergic to latex.
“So my idea is polypropylene condoms. They can be made for cheaper than latex condoms, and they are effective,” Klee said. “Everyone deserves protection, right?”
Klee, who pitched in last year’s competition, said he felt inspired to pitch in the social track this year because he read news articles about the problem of latex condoms, and thought his idea would make a good solution.
“I think the event went off really well, and we did not have any problems at all,” Sukriti Chadha ’14, E-Club codirector of competitions, said. “It is a signature E-Club event, and a great way for students to present ideas to fellow students, faculty, venture capitalists and fellow entrepreneurs.”