Last Wednesday evening university and college presidents, professors, and community members crowded into The Log Cabin for a glimpse of what some of this generation’s brightest minds are up to. 92 students from 14 local colleges and universities presented their original business ideas to hundreds of attendees at the Grinspoon Awards Ceremony and Banquet. These students, all winners of their respective school’s Grinspoon Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, presented businesses from all ends of the entrepreneurial spectrum, including service based businesses such as personal training, doula services, and drone surveillance, and product based businesses that included custom cupcakes, dog houses, and pottery.
Six Bay Path students were among those that presented, including Marlene Tapia Reyes, who was one of thirteen students selected for the highlight of the evening – the Elevator Pitch Competition. Each student had just 90 seconds to pitch their product in the style of the popular TV show “Shark Tank”, with three students ultimately being selected to receive a monetary award.
The evening’s emcee Paul Silva, founder of Launch413, kicked off the evening with a reminder to the students participating that “You will feel ‘I don’t belong here. I don’t know what I’m doing.’ Every entrepreneur I know has felt like an imposter at least a thousand times. You are not alone.” Bay Path Student Zoë Naglieri-Prescod ‘20 commented that the event was a great way to “see the competitiveness of the business industry and present my work in a large, professional setting,” helping to overcome that feeling of not belonging.
The event culminated in a keynote address by Wombi Rose, co-founder of the successful pop-up greeting card company LovePop. Rose, who pitched LovePop on Shark Tank and was ultimately backed by Shark Kevin O’Leary, spoke about how important it is to love the work, and how failure, at some point and on some level, is eminent – but it’s not the end of the road. “What’s the worst that happens? It fails?” asked Rose. “That’s not that bad.”
While each student and their respective work was incredible in their own right, The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative truly highlights the work being done in the colleges and universities around Western Massachusetts. When asked about the importance of his education, Rose stated, “Education is about learning to solve problems. It’s the experience of being with people and working through challenges.” After reviewing their business ideas, it was clear that these students had learned just that.
Although a Bay Path student didn’t walk away with the grand prize this year, each of our students showed that they each excelled at the hard work, determination, and out of the box thinking that’s needed to thrive in the entrepreneurial world. Congratulations to our Bay Path presenters Katherine Benson, Audira Cave, Mackenzie Gray, Pauline Hansen Palladino, Zoe Naglieri-Prescod, and Marlene Tapia Reyes, for proving how bold our Bay Path scholars can be.