Celebrating 20 Years of Rocket Pitch with 20 Entrepreneurs, Part II

Babson College Rocket Pitch

Presented by The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, Rocket Pitch celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. While the event has evolved over the years, now including a dynamic audience feedback component, Rocket Pitch remains the same in spirit. It is an opportunity for Babson’s entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to the community and to take a step against their goals—with one catch. They have only three minutes and three slides to communicate the most important points of their ventures.

Check out the first installment of our list of Rocket Pitch entrepreneurs from the past 20 years.
Read Part I

Jason Reuben ’07, founder and CEO of Baguette Atelier

In 2005, Reuben saw a problem in his family’s business and pitched the solution at Rocket Pitch. Little did he know this would set him on an entrepreneurial path to co-founding online jewelry retailer Gemvara and leading Baguette Atelier: “I came to Babson to one day grow my family business and that 2005 pitch transformed my life.”

Meagan Priest MS’19, co-founder of Dottie

When Priest pitched at Rocket Pitch, she learned a lot about her pitching style: “One major takeaway in terms of my delivery was learning that I take a big breath when I finish presenting. This was an unintentional, subconscious response to concluding a presentation, but it was noticeable to the room.” Priest has had plenty of opportunities to hone her pitch since then: She and her co-founder, Oscar Flores MS’19, made it to the final round of the 2019 B.E.T.A. Challenge and participated in the Summer Venture Program. She is now part of the WIN Lab, working on an MVP.

Ed Brzychcy MBA’16, founder of Blue Cord Management LLC

Brzychcy pitched his consulting service twice, in 2015 and then again in 2017 as an alum. For him, Rocket Pitch provided different benefits at different stages of the business: “The first time I pitched, I had a very rough idea, and I was looking for some feedback on refining, improving, and implementing it. The second time, I had a business practice started and established, and I was looking for some further outreach and finding some new venues to bring my ideas into the light.”

Ernie Valladares ’20, co-founder of The Lucrative Youth

Valladares pitched his tech venture Third Eye as a first-year student in 2016 and is excited to bring his Babson journey full circle and return to Rocket Pitch as a senior. At this Rocket Pitch, he will pitch The Lucrative Youth. He is hoping to leverage the feedback forum component of Rocket Pitch, as well as the opportunity to engage with the diverse audience: “Personally, I’ve always valued the questions after the pitch and the networking reception just as much as the pitch itself.”

Tim Chae, general partner at 500 Startups

Chae pitched RedeemR, a loyalty card tech solution for small and midsize businesses, which later led to PostRocket, a Facebook marketing optimization software also for SMBs. PostRocket went on to secure investment from 500 Startups, Polaris Ventures, and several angel investors. Today, from his vantage point in venture capital, Chae offers words of advice for entrepreneurs preparing to pitch: “Most of all, make sure not a single soul leaves the room confused about what you do.”

Benjapon Jivasantikarn MBA’05, associate director, Institute for Family Entrepreneurship at Babson

When Jivasantikarn came to Babson, it was Professor Zach Zacharakis who encouraged her to participate in Rocket Pitch: “I was hesitant at first, because, up until that point, I was terrified about public speaking and my idea was literally just an idea. No real thinking behind it yet. But, I said yes and applied.” The good news? The Rocket Pitch experience changed her mind, and she eventually grew to love public speaking.

Juan Giraldo MBA’18, CEO and co-founder of Waku

It was at the 2016 Rocket Pitch that Giraldo first pitched the idea of an energy drink. Two years later, he returned to Rocket Pitch with Waku, a plant-based tonic based on an ancient, Ecuadorian recipe, and exciting news to share. Just hours before Rocket Pitch, Giraldo landed an investor to lead his fundraising round. In his pitch, he invited the audience to join Waku on its journey. Waku has since appeared at the Natural Expo East 2019 and landed on shelves in 80 stores in the Northeast.

Vivian Nguyen ’22, serial entrepreneur

As a first–year student, Nguyen’s Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) experience motivated her to participate in Rocket Pitch. She explains, “Everyone was so supportive yet helpful, and I wanted that same experience on an idea I was passionate about.” Nguyen has since continued work on her venture stRRRaw and recently ran for a seat on Everett’s City Council.

Lizzie Bell MBA’11, founder of Off the Beaten Path Food Tours

Thinking back to pitching food product business FoodLAB at the 2010 Rocket Pitch, Bell notes the value of sharing your idea and opening yourself up to feedback, support, and new connections: “An idea is just an idea until you can take the appropriate action to grow, build, and scale the business.” Not to mention, Rocket Pitch is the ideal environment to put yourself out there: “I am always so amazed at how supportive the Babson community is of risk-takers.”

Dillon Galynsky ’20, CEO and co-founder of Hush

Today, Galynsky’s Hush, a smoke filtration device, is patent-pending and in pilot tests. But, in 2016, when Galynsky pitched it as Smask at Rocket Pitch, it was a much earlier idea. Galynsky took it through the Summer Venture Program, made great strides in the technology, and is now preparing to launch the product within the year.

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