Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Celebrating 100 Years with Babson’s Biggest Pitch Competition

This Friday as part of the Centennial Celebration, three startups will take the stage to compete in Babson’s biggest pitch competition yet: ePitch. The finalists will pitch to a panel of well-known judges:  Jamie Siminoff ’99, CEO and chief inventor of Ring; Tim Chae, general partner, 500 Startups; Diane Hessan, founder and chairman of C Space, Fred Kiang ’70, MBA’75, H’19, founder of Sunrise Duty Free; Alicia Castillo Holley MBA’96, founder and CEO of Wealthing Institute and member of Sand Hill Angels, and Edward Marram, entrepreneur and senior lecturer at Babson.

With a $100,000 prize on the table, the stakes are high. And with Babson marking its Centennial with an extraordinary, multi-day celebration, the audience is huge. So, who are the finalists?

Arist is a text message learning platform led by Michael Ioffe ’21, Ryan Laverty ’20, and Maxine Anderson ’22, and Joe Passanante. Thinking back to what motivated them to apply to ePitch, Ryan, COO of Arist, noted that it is a tremendous opportunity: “Many people are hesitant at first to the concept of text message learning and, the more people we open the idea of text message learning to, the better.”

The idea for Arist was originally born when Michael had a series of conversations with students in Yemen and saw their challenges accessing digital learning in an area without high-speed internet. He realized that text messages were the best way to deliver educational content and could fill a critical need.

This past summer, the Arist team participated in the Summer Venture Program, adding integrations to the platform, building out a content methodology, and launching pilots with over a dozen Fortune 500 companies. And, they’re building momentum in sharing their message: Arist was recognized as a finalist in Fast Company’s 2019 World-Changing Ideas competition, and Ryan was recently named to BostInno’s 25 under 25 list. At ePitch, the team won’t pass up the chance to tell their story: “Texts have the ability to help people all over the world, and it’ll take a strong, global community and support network to help us get there.”

At ePitch, estate planning platform Gentreo looks forward to building upon what it already achieved in the WIN Lab. As co-founder and CEO Renee Fry explained, “Babson’s ePitch gives us the opportunity to build on what we created as a member of the Babson WIN Lab and is an amazing vehicle for helping Gentreo grow.”

Gentreo makes estate and eldercare planning tools accessible and available for everyone. Market trends reveal that estate planning will be vital in coming years. The senior population is growing rapidly, and will only continue to increase: By 2060, nearly 100 million Americans will be 65 or older. And when estate planning isn’t put in place, families may lose choices and assets, waste time and money, and undergo an emotional toll. With Gentreo, customers get an easy and affordable way to learn about, create, store, and share estate planning documents.

The team – led by Renee and co-founder Mary Kate D’Souza – has big goals. Its mission is to enable 10 million families to plan for and protect their futures. Renee believes ePitch is a “one of a kind opportunity” to engage the Babson community with Gentreo’s mission. And if they win the $100,000 prize, they will use it to establish partnerships with financial institutions, insurers, and employers, and to extend its marketing reach.

Finally, founder Joanna Geisinger MBA’17 will pitch TORq Interface, a platform that connects hospitals and medical device representatives to streamline surgical scheduling. TORq automates many communications and updates in real time, saving hospitals, medical device companies, and patients time and money in the process.

Joanna is both a Summer Venture Program alumna and a past winner of the B.E.T.A. Challenge. She leveraged this win to fund the first pilot for TORq and has spent the past few years developing the platform, focusing on scaleability, stability, and security.

While Joanna has been running TORq in stealth mode, she believes that “the time is right to come out of stealth mode” and ePitch is the right opportunity. As a fan of Shark Tank, she looks forward to pitching to Jamie Siminoff, who originally went on the show as a contestant and returned five years later as a guest Shark. And she knows the impact winning $100,000 could have on her business. While she has bootstrapped to date, the prize money would allow her to staff up in advance of some exciting changes on the horizon.

Much like competing on Shark Tank, the chance to amplify their message and to possibly win $100,000 is a game changer for each of these finalists. Join us at ePitch on Friday, September 20 at the Babson Recreation and Athletics Complex, to watch them compete!