On April 16, nine entrepreneurs, representing some of Babson College’s best alumni, graduate, and undergraduate entrepreneurial talent, will pitch their ventures in the B.E.T.A. Challenge finale.
The B.E.T.A. Challenge is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year for Babson’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. But, for the first time, the competition will be virtual.
With the suspension of in-person classes and events due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Blank Center for Entrepreneurship team quickly pivoted the competition. Nine finalists were chosen after last week’s virtual Venture Expo. In a new twist on the classic expo format, each semifinalist virtually pitched their venture and answered questions from the panel of judges.
Throughout the competition, the finalists have made connections and received vital insights from the Babson community. As Richard O’Brien MBA’20, CEO and co-founder of Hoamsy, explained, the opportunity to learn motivated him to apply: “We were excited to get feedback from the knowledgeable judges and mentors involved in the competition at every step of the way.”
As the entrepreneurs near the last stage of the competition, they are doubling down in their efforts to hone their pitches. They have a lot of important points to cover but only a few minutes, and they must connect with the judges and the audience. Ryan Laverty ’20, who is preparing to pitch text message learning platform Arist, described how he hopes his pitching will evolve: “It takes a special kind of preparation to pitch everything in just three minutes, and I believe this will help me learn how to do just that.”
Nailing the pitch can translate to business success, as Jeremy Bhatia ’11 of 1Room explained. In order to grow its operations and to work toward its mission of giving all people an equal opportunity to graduate high school, the 1Room team believes effective story-telling will make the difference.
When the finalists take the virtual stage on Thursday, they will pitch for $350,000 in cash and in-kind prizes from corporate sponsors.
These prizes can be transformational. For Aakaanksh Pothukutchi ’13 and his venture Dash Beyond, an interactive career encyclopedia game, winning would mean securing runway for the business and adding a UX researcher and a front-end engineer to his team. Similarly, Vaidehi Tembhekar MBA’21, CEO and co-founder of motorcycle taxi-hailing app Busy Boda, would use the prize money to hire an operations manager and a marketing team. Others, like Félix Guelfucci MS’20 of BONAMÍ FOOD PRODUCTS, Noah Doris ’20 of Goba Tea, and Jeremy Singh MBA’18 of TakkaCor Technologies, are planning product development and sales channel expansion.
For all of the finalists—no matter their business stage or their goals—competing in the B.E.T.A. Challenge is a uniquely Babson experience and an important point in their startup journeys. They have come a long way in a short amount of time, by taking action, leveraging all of the resources of the Blank Center, and practicing Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®, and now they are putting their skills to the test.
Jason Shatsky ’21, CEO of TicketRev, a reverse marketplace for event tickets, summed up the excitement: “Just last year, I was an audience member and told myself I was going to participate in this competition one day.”