The John S. and Marlene J. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship hosts an annual pitch competition to help grow and nurture startups within the Ambassador Crawford College's entrepreneurship program. Applicants must be an entrepreneurship major or minor to qualify. Teams are accepted as long as one student is an entrepreneurship major or minor. Once selected, eight finalists participate in a mentorship program to prepare for the live pitch event. In total, $20,000 will be awarded at the live CEBIpitch event.
FIRST PLACE: Lauren Hollis - Pineapple Loop
SECOND PLACE: Chris Vogt - LinkApp
THIRD PLACE: Angelique Wong - Artuza
Ethan Cregan - ECregs Outdoors
Junior Entrepreneurship Major
The world needs more adventure. ECregs Outdoors is an adventure lifestyle brand that inspires the world to find adventure through media content and apparel. The company believes in using the world as a classroom and pushing limits in the outdoors.
Lauren Hollis - Pineapple Loop
Junior Entrepreneurship Major
Pineapple Loop creates affordable, hand-crafted jewelry, specializing in custom-made rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Each piece is a personalized and one-of-a-kind creation, limited only by the customers’ imagination. With over 4,000 products delivered to 18 countries, Pineapple Loop has positioned itself as a unique, global jewelry company.
Jordan Hunt - Mainstreet Microgreens
Senior Entrepreneurship Major
MainStreet Microgreens is devoted to growing the finest quality microgreens and delivering them to your door anywhere in the continental United States. Microgreens are baby vegetable greens with more nutrients than their full-size vegetable counterparts, so imagine a plant the size of a four-leaf clover with more nutrients than a head of broccoli. The company’s goal is to make microgreens available to everyone in the United States and revolutionize how people buy microgreens.
Kaitlyn Phillips - Technicollar
Junior Entrepreneurship Major
Technicollar is a fashion brand that creates matching products for pets and their owners. They produce a variety of clothing products that are sustainably made, comfortable, and stylish, with a focus on recreating the way society sees fashion for animals.
Amrth Shenava – Flashmates
Senior - Computer Science Major
Flashmates is an app that makes it easier for students to find affordable off-campus housing and roommates based on their preference and interests, as well as provide tools to help them manage their finances while in college.
Chris Vogt - LinkApp
"Social" Media isn’t social. Socialize with new people in your area with geo-fenced chats, find hangouts and make plans with ease in our immersive real-life social media platform. As seen on Grant Cardone’s show, Tech Tank, LinkApp already has thousands of downloads in 20 countries.
Angelique Wong - Artuza
Senior Fashion Design Major
Artuza is an athleisure brand whose goal is to create activewear and chic garments, with a size range of XXS-5X, that allows all to feel comfortable in a variety of social and personal settings. The company utilizes moisture-absorbing and stretch comfort fabrics that give the wearer a garment that functions based on their needs.
Shampa Banerjee, Ph.D.
Chief Product Officer/Executive Vice President Pluto TV, ViacomCBS
Shampa Banerjee is a Kent State Ph.D. graduate and the Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer of Pluto TV at ViacomCBS. Dr. Banerjee holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Kent State University and a master’s degree in physics from Case Western Reserve University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.
John S. Brinzo
Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cliffs Natural Resources
John S. Brinzo is the retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE-CLF). He graduated from Kent State University in 1964 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in marketing and earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Case Western Reserve University.
Founder and CEO of Capellas Partners
Michael Capellas ’76 is founder and CEO of Capellas Partners, a strategic technology advisory firm. He serves on the boards of Flex (Chair), Cisco, JDA (Chair), Cylance and Solace Systems. He is a senior advisor to Blackstone and is also on the Advisory Board of Kony.
President and CEO of GT Medical Technologies
Matt Likens is President and CEO of GT Medical Technologies. Formerly, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of Ulthera Division, Merz Pharma GmbH. Likens graduated cum laude from Kent State University in 1975 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in marketing.
Entrepreneur, Investor, Advisor
Michael Solomon has been involved in early-stage technology companies and emerging growth companies as an entrepreneur, investor, senior manager, and board member. Early in his career, he owned the youngest of Apple Computer's independent representative firms from 1980 to 1984, the period when Apple grew from $100 million to $1.4 billion in annual sales. In 1985, he became the original vice president of sales and marketing with Aldus Corporation in Seattle, which launched the desktop publishing industry through its PageMaker software. Solomon has provided leadership to companies including Collabra, Telocity, Flycast, eShop, and many others. He served as a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures from 1996 to 2002. From 2005 to 2010, he served as CEO of Audyssey Laboratories of Los Angeles. In 2010, Solomon served as the Board Chairman of Within 3 Corporation, a Cleveland-based medical industry software company from 2010 to its successful financing with Insight partners a leading private equity firm. He is currently an investor and Board member of NewGen Surgical, a sustainable products company serving the operating rooms in hospitals worldwide. He was a member of the Kent State University Board of Trustees from 2011 to 2020 and endowed the Michael D Solomon Entrepreneurial Speaker Series in 2002, which is still very active today. He graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
The John S. and Marlene J. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship immerses students in entrepreneurship education and experiences, advances entrepreneurial research and nurtures regional outreach.
Director, John S. and Marlene J. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship
Associate Professor - Economics