Considering what was on the line, it would be understandable if Michael Jiang 20PhD, Callum Woolley 17G and Dinh Nguyen 17C wanted to down a few shots of the anxiety remedy Jiang developed and the aforementioned team is trying to launch commercially…
The trio had five minutes to present their product to a panel of seven judges—all entrepreneurs and Emory graduates—who would then pepper them with questions about that product, the team’s business plan, the market and pretty much anything else they could think of. The panel would repeat that process for the other three presenters. To the winner would go $5,000 and a pledge of support as the team moves forward.
Welcome to Goizueta’s Bernard Pitch the Summit Competition, which began with preliminary rounds in late February and culminated with the final two rounds of presentations during the annual Emory Entrepreneurship Summit, Friday, March 24.
A total of 24 teams began the competition and those ventures left standing on the final day included an eclectic mix of ideas that were equal parts creative and ambitious. There was one company that built sustainable, attractive furniture out of paper. Others—at various levels of development—connected parents to college students earning extra money as babysitters; created a peer-to-peer lending platform for common items like irons and phone chargers; helped international students with U.S. college applications; and area college students get jobs and scholarships.
Jiang, Woolley and Nguyen were there, too, with Nerv, a dietary supplement formulated to combat anxiety. If they felt any anxiety themselves, it didn’t show. They smoothly discussed the product’s benefits, such as it being available over the counter to anyone regardless of age and that it is non-habit-forming, and without sugar, calories, or caffeine. They also outlined their marketing plan, as well as the challenges inherent in promoting a liquid packaged in a 2-ounce bottle.
“The way we’ve tried to differentiate ourselves from the outset is that we use a different color palette and design. We don’t use a loud color like a of energy drinks.” Jiang said. Instead, Nerv’s bottle is a subtle combo of silver and pale green.
“We’re also not going to market this like an energy drink,” he continued. “We intend to approach organizations like mental health institutions with a message of, ‘here is a product you can use while someone is waiting for therapy, for example.’”
The judges were impressed. Nerv’s pitch was a strike. The team won the $5,000 first prize. Dara Schaier 17MBA took second prize of $2,500 for her fledging company, BOOP (Built Out of Paper). Third and $1,000 belonged to Ifra Khan 17BBA and Omer Ersin 17BBA and their babysitting app, Usit; and the fourth prize of $250 was given to Lend, Peter Yao’s 18BBA and Numan Dharani’s 17BBA idea to leverage the sharing economy for the benefit of local college students.
The alumni entrepreneur panelists included Angie Bastian 91MSN, Eden Chen 09BBA, Jeffrey Chernick 04BBA, David Gaspar 02BBA, William Hockey 12BBA, Nathan Meeks 07BBA, and Brian Rudolph 12BBA.