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Student entrepreneurs gathered in Philadelphia on Feb. 24 to pitch and present their innovative solutions to various challenges. Andrew Nakkache won first place with Habitat. | Courtesy of Michelle Freeman

Credit: BRIAN

From solutions to finding the perfect nail polish to improving public speaking, College Pitch Philly saw it all, including a winning innovation by a Penn student.

Students across the Philadelphia area gathered together on Feb. 24 at the University City Science Center’s Quorum to compete for thousands of dollars in prize money at the first-ever College Pitch Philly competition. The competition was created by the Philadelphia Regional Entrepreneurship Education Consortium and its partners to increase access and better connect university students in the area with better entrepreneurial resources.

“A year ago, a number of us from the area universities got together and wanted to put some increased emphasis on doing some joint programming for the university students,” said Chuck Sacco, a member of the Philadelphia Regional Entrepreneurship Education Consortium. adding that the goal was “having increased attention on this region from an entrepreneurship perspective and really wanting to demonstrate that this is a great place to come start something.”

30 teams pitched ideas to a panel of expert judges, of which four teams were awarded first, second and third place and People’s Choice. All the CEOs of the companies are undergraduates and 50 percent or more of all teams are undergraduates as well.

College senior Miranda Wang took home the People’s Choice award for her company, BioCellection. Her company uses microbiology to help solve the plastic pollution problem in oceans. Because plastic is mixed in its composition and doesn’t decompose, it becomes brittle and breaks into extremely small pieces in oceans, making it is hard to find and remove. Plastic is also introduced into oceans in various ways, such as detergent by-products. Wang created a way to recycle plastic that minimizes waste and creates two by-products: a safe cleaning agent and aquafeed, a more sustainable fish food.

First place went to Temple senior Andrew Nakkache for his soon-to-be-launched app Habitat, which allows students to order pickup and delivery from their favorite food trucks and vendors. Nakkache noticed that many students would like to buy food from food trucks across campus even though food trucks were not part of dorm delivery services. Habitat will allow students who are willing to walk a mile or stop at a food truck on their way home to profit as food delivery staffers.

Temple sophomore Neha Raman took home second place for her company, Rungh Cosmetics. The Rungh System includes a specialized mixer, color capsules and base polishes that allow you to create your own nail polish color in a matter of seconds.

Danish Dhammi, a Drexel sophomore, won third place for his creation, SayUmm — an app in development which allows users to improve their public speaking skills. Users can speak in front of the cameras on their mobile phones, tablets or computers and get instant feedback on their pacing, language and how many times they say “umm.”

“It was a great event and hopefully a great opportunity for students as well,” Sacco said. “Not only did they get to pitch and present and there were some winners, but it was a great opportunity for students to network with each other and share ideas. [It’s] hopefully something we’ll be able to keep doing.”

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