The first thing about the inaugural ePitch that caught the attention of Joanna Geisinger Devin MBA’17 was the prize money: $100,000.
The other thing was the “Shark Tank” vibe and how one of the show’s former contestants, Jamie Siminoff ’99, H’21, was a judge. “I thought it was really cool,” she said. “I’m a big fan of ‘Shark Tank,’ so having him there was super fun.”
A pitch competition veteran, Geisinger Devin was a product of the Summer Venture Program and won the graduate track of the 2017 B.E.T.A. Challenge. So, she thought it’d be natural to enter ePitch and pitch her company, Torq Interface, a platform that connects hospitals and medical device representatives to streamline surgical scheduling.
“I can talk about Torq in my sleep,” she said, “so I figured I’d throw my hat in the ring. Plus, the $100,000 is great.”
Geisinger Devin’s pitch at the inaugural ePitch, held during the College’s Centennial celebration in 2019, sparked a “Shark Tank”-like feeding frenzy among the investor-judges and ultimately netted her the grand prize of $100,000 as the first winner of ePitch.
Now, more than two years later, ePitch is back.
Launched to celebrate the start of Babson’s second century, ePitch is the College’s most exciting pitch competition and is organized by eTower and The Arthur M. Black Center for Entrepreneurship. Now, ePitch returns for its second iteration April 19 during eMerge Americas, the first and largest tech conference in Miami.
Siminoff, the famed founder and chief inventor of Ring, also returns to ePitch as head judge. The “Shark Tank” contestant-turned-shark will lead a panel of investors, who will hear pitches from the three finalists:
- BILTY, a logistics platform that bridges the gap between supply and demand for cross country freight movement, founded by Farhan Salik ’20.
- TicketRev, a reverse marketplace for event tickets, founded by Jason Shatsky ’21.
- Unmute, a platform that connects people to therapists, founded by Asini Wijewardane MBA’19 and Colleen Leung MBA’18.
The three finalists will be competing for the grand prize of $100,000 (with the potential for more) and the title of ePitch champion. The honor and impact of winning ePitch is something only Geisinger Devin knows.
In a 15-minute flurry at the first ePitch, Geisinger Devin received upward of $170,000 in investment offers, including $25,000 from Siminoff. Ultimately, she declined the offers, because the company was not raising capital at the time. “I think if we were, it would have been different,” she said, “but it was definitely flattering.”
But, Torq Interface did walk away with the $100,000 prize money.
At the time Torq won ePitch, Geisinger Devin’s company was pre-revenue, finalizing a contract with a big orthopedic company, and mostly limited to New England. Now, Torq is generating revenue, maintains several key partnerships, and is operating in more than 100 facilities in 32 states.
“We’ve grown tremendously,” Geisinger Devin said.
The ePitch money primarily helped the company through a pivotal period, covering about three months of operating expenses, as well as some important security upgrades. Since then, Torq has maintained its growth trajectory, especially through the pandemic when hospitals were desperate for efficient and cost-effective digital solutions.
“Babson gave me the freedom to focus on the company. My MBA allowed me to learn more about things I had never been exposed to. I look back on my Babson experiences, and I’m so grateful for it.”
Joanna Geisinger Devin MBA’17, co-founder and CEO of Torq Interface
Torq’s ability to connect hospitals and device companies to streamline surgical procedures helped solve a growing problem. “I think device companies realized they had no insight into what was happening,” Geisinger Devin said. “The fluctuation and the demand was crazy because of COVID, and so they reached out to us to cope with that.”
Geisinger Devin, who conceived of her company during her time as a medical devices representative, says reps tell her all the time that they couldn’t live without Torq. “It’d be hard to go back to being blind to what’s happening and going into surgery without knowing if it’s canceled or delayed,” she said. “Now, they can just look at their phone and see if it’s on time or if they don’t need to bother going in. The schedule is more volatile than ever.”
It has been 2½ years since Geisinger Devin won ePitch, but the impact of the experience endures.
“I thought it was an amazing experience, obviously,” she said. “Every time you pitch, you get better and better. And, you just learn to handle pressure a little bit more, which is always important.”
Geisinger Devin also credits her time at Babson as a whole for helping develop her venture.
“Babson gave me the freedom to focus on the company,” she said, noting her independent research projects, her professors, and her classmates. “My MBA allowed me to learn more about things I had never been exposed to. I look back on my Babson experiences, and I’m so grateful for it.”
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