The RRR Printers team presents their idea.

3-Minute Pitch

Teams of UD freshmen compete with original business startup ideas


1:55 p.m., Dec. 10, 2014--Last week 15 teams of University of Delaware freshmen participated in the 3-Minute Pitch competition, which featured students’ ideas for new products and companies.

The student teams, one from each section of the First Year Experience course in the business administration department, presented their pitches to an audience of over 600 UD freshmen and a panel of distinguished judges.

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Three winning teams were selected, each with their own unique idea and business plan.


Eric Best, Jeremy Buschbaum, Kyra Clark, Elizabeth DiGiorgio and Alana McDonald made up one of the winning teams. They presented a pitch for SpectraGlass, their idea for a new way to light homes and businesses.

“SpectraGlass is a window that you install in your home like any other window,” said Buschbaum. “But it turns ambient light into colorful light and also powers your home, lowering your energy costs significantly.”

“Light from the sun enters our window and hits our patentable photochromic fiber,” he continued. “This diffracts light and sends most of the light into solar panels installed around the pane of the window.”

One color of light in the visible spectrum is not diffracted, and is instead sent into the house. Home and business owners can choose which color to use to produce different atmospheric settings.

“The solar panel lowers your energy cost by 60 percent,” said Buschbaum. “LEDs installed near the solar panels add even more possibilities. So it’s all of this technology packed into something completely transparent.”

The team said that they would market to environmentally conscious homeowners and businesses. They also plan to use five percent of their profits to install SpectraGlass windows for free in low-income housing developments.

“Our product revolutionizes the way people think about solar power,” said Best. “SpectraGlass is from the sun, for the home.” 

RRR Printers

Another winning idea came from Alyson Basso, Jamie Gancz, Garrett Sargent, Tyler Smolinski and Jackson Von Savage with RRR Printers.

“Other printing companies have been progressively working with new technology to enhance performance, but they have yet to construct the next best thing,” said Von Savage.

The team said that their product is the first environmentally friendly printer that saves trees by reducing paper wastage, “helping to create a greener world.”

The RRR Printers team designed a specialized retractable and reusable heat-sensitive ink for their printers. Used paper is inserted into a heating tray, which evaporates the ink and funnels it back into a cartridge. This leaves a clean piece of paper than can be used again.

Future goals include prototypes that reuse the saved evaporated ink as well. The team also plans to “give back to the community.”

“Our competitive advantage is clear,” said another team member. “We have the only product that both puts ink on the page and takes ink off the page. No other company is doing what we’re doing.”

The Arctic Shovel

Calling themselves “Stratton Oakmont,” Lexie Savarese, Kaitlin Woo, Denesh Chukkapalli and Sam Grossman were also chosen as winners for their idea, the Arctic Shovel.

“When people use shovels the snow tends to stick to the shovel and cause ice build-up,” said Chukkapalli. “This ice build-up can be difficult to deal with since it adds extra weight to the shovel. This is why there are 11,500 reported shoveling injuries each year.”

Woo said that the Arctic Shovel is, “the perfect solution to this problem.”

The Arctic Shovel includes a 24-ounce container of shortening oil as well as a dispenser that sprays the oil onto the surface of the shovel at the touch of a button.

“Snow will slide off more easily because oil and water don’t mix,” said Woo. 

Savarese explained that she had the idea to use oil on the shovel after her mother injured her back last winter. Using the oil worked so well, she said, that building in the dispenser was the next logical step.

“Buy the Arctic Shovel because we’ve got your back,” said Savarese.

Judges and awards

The panel of judges was made up of distinguished UD alumni, including:

  • Mona Parikh, adjunct instructor in the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship and managing director of Start It Up Delaware;
  • Stefanie Spatola, assistant director of the Horn Program;
  • Aleks Volkov of Bridgeforce, a specialized multinational consulting firm; and
  • Mac Nagaswami, founder and CEO of Carvertise, a tech-startup that crowdsources outdoor advertising by means of everyday car drivers.

“They each presented their idea very well,” said Spatola of the winning teams. “Their concept was very clear and you could understand what they were trying to sell.”

Parikh said that, in addition to effective communication, market analysis is key to winning competitions like these. 

“The trick is to research, research, research,” said Parikh. “Competitor analysis is ongoing. It has to be.” 

“It’s not bad that you have competitors,” she continued. “Competitors mean that you’re trying to solve the same problem.”

Spatola and Parikh agreed that they were impressed that teams’ ideas solved real-world problems, like the Arctic Shovel helping Savarese’s mother with her back pain.

“You want a team that says, ‘we’re going to solve a real problem, hack together a solution and bring this to market,’’’ said Parikh. “I think ideas like that are just genius.”

Contest winners received a T-shirt from Blue Hen Marketing Club, a Starbucks gift card and a letter of congratulations from Stewart Shapiro, chairperson of business administration and professor of marketing.

During the competition Shapiro and Spatola urged students to submit their ideas to this year’s Hen Hatch competition, in which students submit startup ideas to compete for a share of a $50,000 prize pool.

“I encourage you to continue to interact with your faculty,” said Shapiro to the students. “I also want to encourage you to continue being involved with all of the networking opportunities through Career Services and other campus events.”

Article by Sunny Rosen

Photos by Kevin Quinlan

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