Pitching Their Way to Success in Regional Entrepreneurship Competition

Photo of 3 students - one on a tablet screen - with the Dean of the School of Business

Three students of the SUNY Old Westbury School of Business took home second place in the inaugural SUNY LI PitchFest – a “Shark Tank-like” competition for local college students.

Seniors Christine M. Jorge (Accounting), Kiranvir Kaur (Accounting), and Lee Ann Williams (Business Administration), who together formed Team Sunchoke, were selected as one of six finalists for the competition, which featured student-teams from Old Westbury, Stony Brook University and Farmingdale State.

The competition took place virtually, with a combination of a live Q&A session, which gave students an opportunity to interact with successful business people, and asynchronous videos between presenters. 

Team Sunchoke introduced its concept with a comprehensive business plan and focused elevator pitch for Sunchoke Chips, a healthy alternative to traditional chips and snacks. The effort focused on creating a snack made from sunchokes, the tubular-shaped, thin-skinned root vegetable of the sunflower plant family, which would provide a more healthful alternative for “on-the-go” snackers and encourage them to “Snack with a Purpose.”

After pitching their concept, the students fielded a battery of questions asked by a panel of judges.

“Our team had the opportunity to put our entrepreneurial prowess to the test,” said Williams after the competition. “We gained valuable insights on the process of developing and pitching our ideas, and best of all we got the chance to learn better ways to present our ideas which can be applicable to many fields of work.”

The SUNY Long Island PitchFest was developed collaboratively by the three institutions as a means of providing an experiential learning opportunity for students to hone their entrepreneurial skills. The colleges intend to make the event an annual affair, with planning already underway for 2022.

“We are so proud of all of the hard work the students put into their pitch and thank Dr. Alireza Ebrahimi for working so diligently to prepare the team” said Dr. Shalei Simms, acting dean of the School of Business.

Ebrahimi, an associate professor in the School of Business, helped guide the team through its effort to shape and develop its business plan.

School of Business