Loyola Business Blog

Student innovators pitch to build a better Baltimore

In its most competitive year yet, student innovators are gearing up to take their ideas to the next level. As they ready their pitch proposals to vie for prize money and “Shark Tank”like notoriety, they are also seeking to do good.

Their charge: to develop an initiative, service, or product that contributes to Baltimore's economic and social well-being. The competition is part of Loyola’s Building a Better World Through Business which runs from March 26 – 28, 2019. All events are hosted by the Sellinger School of Business and co-sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA), Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CI&E), and Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ).

With contemporary ideas that span a wide range of topics, 42 proposals were submitted this year from either individual students or teams. Out of the submitted proposals, 12 have been selected to present in the first round of the competition on March 27, where they will display their ideas as posters to a panel of judges, fellow Loyola students, and community members at large.

This year’s proposals not only address a wide variety of community needs; they also span a large spectrum of focal areas and industries, from urban food deserts and access to healthy options to the creation of a robot road show featuring basic STEM and engineering workshops. The list also includes plans to address literacy challenges using Augmented Reality (AR) technology and implementation of micro-filtration waterway conservation efforts. 

Empress Consulting, led by Matthew Paniccia, ’20, is excited to showcase his team’s idea. “We believe Loyola students have many useful skills untapped by small businesses in the community,” says Paniccia, a finance and economics double major. “Our proposal is unique because it uses a Loyola education and human capital as the main catalyst behind the entire process, which is a renewable source of benefit, as opposed to a physical product.”

“The pitch competition focuses on our students’ creativity and commitment to create social change and economic benefit for our city,” says Dave Luvison, Ph.D., executive in residence for the Sellinger School of Business. 

“What makes it a unique experience for the students is that they are testing their ideas with outsiders, rather than with our own faculty and administrators. Our judges come from the prospective of operating and/or evaluating real businesses, so they are viewing our students’ proposals with a practitioner’s eye.” 

Charmed, the pitch concept from Erin Gamble ’19, is designed to change the current experience high school-age girls have in shopping for prom dresses at second-hand clothing drives. 

“Most organizations run their dress drives out of hotel conference rooms, church halls, or community centers,” explains Gamble, a marketing major. “In many cases, girls line up down the street, take a number, and are given limited time to find what is supposed to be their ‘dream dress.’ There is nothing glamorous about this process.” Charmed, she says, will be different, because Gamble seeks to partner with brick and mortar boutiques, engage local high school students, and create a chic fashion-forward event for all.

Samantha Lulov, ’19, a double major in finance and information systems and Sellinger Scholar, is excited about her team’s proposal to open a coffee shop that practices environmentally sustainable operations while promoting social justice. Coffee for a Cause would provide vocational training and jobs to unemployed populations, in addition to donating a portion of proceeds to an organization of the customers’ choosing.

“My proposal is unique because it considers the triple bottom line: people, profits, and the planet. It will be the first coffee shop of this kind in Baltimore!” says the senior from Manhasset, N.Y.

Matthew Ferioli, ’20, and his team are excited to return to the pitch competition for a second year. “We are excited to use Jesuit principles coupled with our business education to make Baltimore residents healthier regardless of income level, social status, and proximity to supermarkets,” he says. 

His team is building on their idea from last year’s Building a Better World through Business pitch competition to meet a need in the local community. 

“Our idea, Baltimore Oasis Food Trucks, is unique, because it can be fully funded through government grants,” explains the finance and international business double major and Sellinger Scholar. “Using these grants, we can help the almost 24% of Baltimore City residents who currently do not have access to fresh produce. Unlike farmers’ markets and other ‘movable’ stores, Baltimore Oasis Food Trucks would be available to provide healthy nutrients all year round.”