Princeton Pitch showcases growing community of entrepreneurship on-campus

May 27, 2022

On March 26th, 23 students representing some of Princeton’s top entrepreneurial talent competed at Princeton Pitch, the Entrepreneurship Club’s annual flagship pitch competition fostering and highlighting Princeton’s premier student-led startups.

“We were impressed by both the number of applications and the high turnout at the event, both signs that Princeton’s entrepreneurial community continues to grow,” explained Rohan Jinturkar ’23 and E-Club co-president. 

The teams’ journeys started with an intensive selection process by an alumni review committee, with ten undergraduate and graduate student startups selected as finalists from approximately 40 applications, the highest in Princeton Pitch history.

Once selected, the ten finalist teams were greeted in early March at the Princeton Entrepreneurial Hub for a welcome dinner and Pitching 101 workshop by Naomi Benenson ’23, a Venture Partner at Contrary, kicking off pre-pitch programming. For the next few weeks, teams met with hand-matched 1:1 mentors from across the country, including Princeton Entrepreneurship Council’s Don Seitz ’79, Tom Meyer ’87 of Nassau Street Ventures, Mark Poag ’93 of Fitz Gate Ventures, Brigitte Anderson ’02 of Orange Vista, Daphne Hoppenot ’10 of The Vendry, Danielle Cohen-Shohet ’12 of GlossGenius, Trevor Wilkins ’13 of ScaleLA, Cat Wu ’17 of GiveDirectly and Bayo Okusanya ’20 of Chaac Ventures.

“We are enormously thankful to all of the alumni who supported Princeton Pitch, as they made the experience much more enriching for both competitors and attendees,” Jinturkar noted. 

Alongside the mentorship, teams also participated in a virtual talk + Q&A with Ali Partovi, the co-founder of and CEO of Neo, and practiced their pitches with Contrary Venture Partners from Columbia, Penn, and Yale. 

The final Pitch Day started off with a keynote from Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, highlighting the strong ecosystem of entrepreneurship resources that Princeton has to offer.

The morning carried on with the Ideation Track pitches, focusing on teams working on turning their ideas into viable products. From a platform to monetize content creators’ many hidden hours of work, to an application turning social discourse into political action, the Ideation teams presented five-minute pitches to a panel of venture capitalist judges from Boston, New York City, and New Jersey, including Stephen Stolzenberg ’13 of Nassau Street Ventures. The Ideation winner (receiving $1000) was Team Treun, founded by graduate students Gabriel Dolsten, Tanujay Saha, and Isla Xi Han, which is developing virtual reality environments for therapists to use during phobia exposure therapy, enabling patients to make more rapid and thorough progress. 

After lunch, the MVP Track teams took the stage, presenting ventures ranging from novel plastic-collecting prototypes to women’s health technologies. The judges selected Team Berry as the winner (receiving $5,000 + publicity through Townsquare Media), founded by Franchesca Doell ’24, Anna Prilutsky ’24 and Eleni Retzepis ’24. Berry is a browser extension for online grocery shopping websites helping families buy foods that fit their specific dietary needs.

Princeton Pitch 2022 was a meaningful experience for both finalists and attendees, continuing an annual tradition of showcasing Princeton’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs and bringing like-minded students together. “The Princeton Pitch was an amazing experience! It was wonderful to meet other Princeton entrepreneurs and learn about their ventures. I feel very grateful to have Berry’s venture judged by VC judges!” Doell commented.

Pitch Day wrapped up with a talk by AbdurRahman Bhatti ’25, the co-founder of GhostPacer, an augmented reality glasses product for runners. Bhatti took two gap years to work on GhostPacer before starting at Princeton, securing angel investments as well as two very successful crowdfunding campaigns. He shared with the audience the importance of good co-founders: “When you’re working on a startup, every single obstacle you face could be a death blow, that could be it. Especially at times when it looks like things are not going to work out, that’s when you need somebody to have your back. So when moving forward, picking your co-founders well, making sure they’re with you in good times and bad, that’s one of the most important things I’ve learned.”

Watch the video:

This year’s event was organized by a committee of undergraduate students: Roshini Balasubramanian ’22, Elise Kratzer ’24, Maiya Raghu ’25, and James Zhang ’25, led by E-Club presidents Archika Dogra ‘24 and Jinturkar. Special thanks to Daniella Cohen ’22 for her assistance in securing judges and funding. This event was generously supported by Princeton Entrepreneurship Council, Princeton Innovation, the Keller Center, Rough Draft Ventures, and many other departments and alumni.