Generations, Picket, INT-ID Triumph at V2 Pitch Competition

V2 Pitch Competition 2018: GenerationsAmanda Lettmann, Mike Lawless and Regina Bernal, far right, congratulate Generations' Anna Kenneally and Janaira Quigley, upon winning the 2018 V2 Pitch Competition on April 26.

It was a very good night to be a student entrepreneur when the seventh annual Venture Vetting (V2) Pitch Competition took place on April 26.

Three University of San Diego finalists and their entrepreneurial ideas — Generations, Picket and Kingery Works — were rewarded for their pitches, for the vision of their respective projects and for the potential each one possesses in order to thrive.

USD Entrepreneurs Shine

Generations, a web-based platform created by current Master of Science in Global Leadership (MSGL) students Janaira Quigley and Anna Kenneally, allows stay-at-home parents to build a business and to gain an income by providing caretaking and companionship services to home-bound seniors. This idea received $19,000, the largest share of V2's $30,000 seed prize money purse for USD teams.

"I'm in shock, but people really like our idea, it's not just a pipe dream and we've put in the work to prove it. The idea for this started years ago, but building out the business model and doing the tangible things happened about a year ago," said Quigley, who gave the live pitch. "This last year it's been more than a full-time job with school and being a mother of two."

She said the total amount will cover what's needed to launch Generations.

"The $19,000 will build out our website and our platform and it will enable us to launch. This is what we needed for it to go."

Picket, an innovative update for the lawnmower of today, as it was explained by mechanical engineering students Austin Hirsh and Sydney Reiners, received $8,000. Hirsch said the money his team received will enable them to make a prototype that can be brought back to potential investors for possible additional funding. Picket's calling card is its oscillating blade design and energy-efficient battery make it more eco-friendly and user-friendly than traditional lawnmowers. Hirsch said he and Reiners will be working on their prototype this summer and that it will serve as their senior design project in the coming year within the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering.

Kingery Works, a fine jewelry and lifestyle brand inspired by a culture of motorcycles, surfing and more, earned the pitching student, undergraduate business major Nelson Kingery, $3,000. The money will be used to continue building the hand-crafted jewelry pieces, though feedback given by the angel investors during the program hoped that Kingery Works could look into expanding its customer reach.

The angel investors for the USD pitches were executive, entrepreneur and Air Force veteran Amanda Lettmann; businesswoman and founder of Cool-jams, Anita Mahaffey; and Stath Karras, the current executive director of the USD School of Business’ Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

V2 Pitch Competition 2018

Strong Latin America Entrepreneur Teams

V2, which has built up a bi-national base with a Latin America student component the last five years, had perhaps its most polished set of finalists yet. Two teams from Mexico, each with technology-infused components and fulfilling important needs, split $10,000.

INT-ID, a smart lock that grants entry access remotely, received $7,000. Osvaldo Reynoso, a member of the INT-ID team, gave the pitch. "It's been great to have so many people helping us, having everyone participate and the investors' interest and feedback to help us move forward," Reynoso said of the V2 experience.

Therapsy, an online service that enables mental health sufferers access to mental health professionals, was pitched by Perla Nahle, a student at UABC, and angel investors awarded $3,000.

Both INT-ID and Therapsy received in-kind services such as office space and private mentoring to provide enhanced support of their entrepreneurship endeavors.  

For the second straight year, a team representing Uruguay, gained the experience of pitching its product to a live audience as well as receiving mentoring, feedback and support for its efforts. CityCop, a social platform for community watch to combat crime and to protect loved ones, was well-pitched by Nadim Curi, who represented ORT University of Uruguay.

Angel investors for the Latin American team pitches were Silvia Mah, CEO of Hera-Labs; Busca Corp. founder Ramon Toledo; and Yolia Health founder Alberto Osio.

A Thriving Entrepreneurship Culture

The V2 event, founded by Mike Lawless, a clinical professor of management in USD's School of Business and academic director of entrepreneurship initiatives, and put together by School of Business' Entrepreneurship Manager Regina Bernal, demonstrate USD's ability to successfully model business entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. V2, the Center for Peace and Commerce's Global Social Innovation Challenge, a fall Changemaker Challenge are each part of the spreading of entrepreneurship culture on campus. Add to those competitions a new Changemaker minor, the engineering school's growing commitment and campus wide support for student ideas to make change in the United States and abroad, it's no wonder why it thrives here.

"This school is amazing," Quigley said. Throughout the process of building Generations into what it can now become as a result of V2, she thanked her MSGL professors, many of whom had provided support and mentorship on aspects such as public speaking and marketing strategy advice. The result of that support from the confidence she expressed during her seven-minute pitch to speaking with angel investors for feedback in the one-on-one meetings later in the evening was on full display Thursday night.

— Ryan T. Blystone