Winners announced in challenge

Maria Brachelli

The Villanova Entrepreneurial Society (VES) held its second annual Start Up Challenge reception this Sunday, Feb. 13, in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center to announce the winners of its annual contest.

This year, members of the team “Couture Closet,” a plan written by McGuire & Associates won the grand prize of $2,000. Students in the group included Nathan Sheth, Christopher Koszalka, Brian Beck and Sebastian Niezgoda.

The reception, attended by many entrepreneurs and members of the University community including Dean Edward Mathis, Interim Dean of the College of Commerce and Finance, other staff and the student participants, was organized by Adam Dekel, a sophomore on the board of VES Start Up Challenge. The reception included a three course steak and salmon dinner as the audience witnessed the students receive their awards.

All of the awards for the competition were presented by Tim Allen of ATX Communications, the primary sponsor of the Start Up Challenge, as well as the president and vice president of the VES Start Up Challenge board, Adam Seigrist and Travis McMenimon respectively.

University faculty members, alumni and local entrepreneurs served as judges for the contest.

The runner up team, the “Quad Connection,” was comprised of Villanova students Vanessa Brochin, Amanda Pawlyk, Christine Raia, Ashley Schaffer and Joseph Passaro.

“The Start Up Challenge is about process, not ideas,” Adam Siegrist, a board member of the Entrepreneurial Society, said. “It is a competition that teaches students how to take an idea and turn it into an opportunity in a truncated time period – they will have to experience this in their lives, no matter what they do.”

Frequently, team members find jobs through networking with the judges and others in attendance. They gain real world experience on how to sell an idea, how to be personable and how to give a presentation in a professional manner suitable for their audiences. “Last year two students received internships and one full time position from our sponsors,” reported Siegrist.

The faculty organizer for the Start Up Challenge, Dr. James Klingler, said, “The group that organized it has really done a phenomenal job. They are truly a team.”

Other awards presented at the banquet include category prizes of $500 each, such as the Marketing Prize, the Finance Prize, the Operations Prize and the Founders Prize.

The best part is that the University and judges have been so receptive in the second year after such a success last year,” Siegrist said. “The competition is easier to run when everyone believes in your cause, and truly wants to help you out.”

Applications were accepted starting Jan. 18, and plans created by the teams of students were turned in on Feb. 6.

VUTV showed a presentation briefly documenting the Challenge on the projection screens. The video shows much of what occurred in the elevator competition and the feedback after the elevator competition, as well as some of the finals.

“It boils down to having the right people in your team and putting your trust with those people,” Nathan Sheth, a member of the grand prize winning team, McGuire & Associates said. “There’s too much work for one person and so teamwork is essential. All I learned in almost four years at Villanova finally came to fruition at the Start Up Challenge.”

Chris Koszalka, also of the winning team McGuire & Associates, said, “The many sleepless nights, spent arguing over whether we need a comma or a semicolon and where to put it, actually made us stronger. We depended on each other for strength and the greater the stress, the stronger our response. This is a memory I’ll never forget.”