Students, alumni and guests came together to watch the Career Center’s Entrepreneurial Alliance program host their seventh Annual Entrepreneurial Expo and Business Pitch Competition where Colby’s most ingenious entrepreneurs battle it out for a chance to win big for their young businesses.
The networking event began early Friday afternoon, where a host of guest speakers including lawyers, business executives, and Maine entrepreneurs shared their ideas and experiences with the audience. The crux of the event came later where students took turns presenting their ventures to a panel of judges who judged them on their business pitches, Q&A responses and general readiness for market entry. This year, $15,000 in startup capital was available for the winners.
$10,000 in seed money was awarded to EuroPiste, a technology company founded by Theo Satloff ’19, Carl-Philip Majgaard ’18, and Walker Griggs ’19. Their company serves as an online marketplace designed for verified winter sports professionals to purchase discounted gear where brands can also subsequently grow their reach. When asked about the inspiration for their company, CEO Satloff said, “I have an extensive background in the winter sports industry, and found this niche. I have been skiing for 18 years, and I have a lot of friends who are professionals in the ski industry. I thought it would be a fulfilling and fun venture to start.” The niche Satloff mentions refers to what he saw as a gap in the winter sports market. Similar business platforms and marketplaces exist in the United States, but are mostly absent in Europe, so the group saw an opening with low barriers to entry.
However, their road to success will not be simple. While Europe is relatively void of such online marketplaces, Satloff realizes it is in part due to the difficulty of the user base. “Our user base is really hard to get because it is a rather small community and they are spread across fifteen countries,” explained Staloff. To overcome this, the team has worked hard to establish partnerships with international ski instructor organizations, such as the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI).
While EuroPiste has received a huge boost with the seed money that will be going into their business, they still have a great deal of work to do to launch their company and become a competing force in the winter sports market. For some, the networking itself is as useful as the cash prize and EuroPiste is sure to take full advantage of both. “As strange as it sounds, $10,000 really doesn’t do that much for startup costs. We’re extremely grateful to Colby for having organized the competition, but the money itself isn’t why we are grateful. We are grateful because the competition validated our idea and introduced us to numerous people who will be pivotal in our success,” explained Satloff.
Aziz Ghadiali ’19 received $5,000 for his company SplitShorts.com, a business dedicated to bringing a unique “stand out” style to the homogenous athletic split-shorts market. Ghadiali plans to spend most of the money on financing his depleting inventory and improving his profit margin.