During an inspiring night at the Lobo Rainforest Building in downtown Albuquerque, five student entrepreneur teams went head to head and pitched their big ideas to an audience of business leaders, entrepreneurs and enthusiastic supporters.
The Comcast Pitch Deck Competition was co-hosted by STC.UNM and the UNM Innovation Academy, the University of New Mexico’s technology-transfer and economic-development organization and entrepreneurial studies program. Sponsored by Comcast and Nusenda Credit Union, the competition offered a platform for student entrepreneurs who want to start or are already operating an early-stage company to present and launch their innovations. Comcast provided a $20,000 prize pool for the five finalists who pitched their innovative ideas and early-stage companies to investor judges before an audience of more than 100 attendees.
The winners were:
- First Place $10,000 Prize – Erik Strobert, Chemical Engineering, UNM, Perspective Components Inc. – Seamless integration of artificial intelligence and gimbal hardware to deliver the world’s smallest Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera system.
- Second Place $5,000 Prize – Alissa Chavez, Communications, UNM, EasyFlo – An eco-friendly Baby Bottle
- Third Place $2,500 Prize – George Boujaoude, Computer Science, UNM, Tomas Manzanares, UNM Computer Science and Christian Seely, Computer Science, Bitekast – A podcast listening platform advancing the way we listen to podcasts.
- Finalists $1,000 Prize each:
- Anna Kuuttila, Master of Business Administration, UNM and Sara Kuuttila-Webbert, Liberal Arts, UNM, Smarter Starter – Children’s educational products tailored for children ages 0-4
- Sam Crooks, Computer Science, UNM, Film Spots – Online platform to scout and reserve film sites.
“Partnering with STC.UNM and the Innovation Academy has been a fantastic experience. Our Comcast team is impressed by the talent and creativity showcased by these outstanding student entrepreneurs,” said Chris Dunkeson, Area Vice President, Comcast. “These students represent some of the best young talent in Albuquerque, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for them.”
STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila stated that the student finalists learned how to effectively plan a business model, how to attract investors, and how to market-test their business models to adapt to customers’ needs. They were able to also network with and receive coaching from successful entrepreneurs. “The preparation and coaching really helped them present with more confidence and professionalism. Pitching is not easy, so they did a terrific job!”
“The progress our students made was tremendous,” added Innovation Academy Executive Director Rob DelCampo. “While this isn’t the final step in their entrepreneurial education, it is certainly a tremendous step in the right direction.”