UNM Rainforest Innovations

Comcast logoAlbuquerque – November 25, 2019 – On December 2, New Mexico’s university students will have a new opportunity to compete for prize money to fund their early-stage, promising business ventures.

STC.UNM and the UNM Innovation Academy will co-host the Comcast Pitch Deck Competition. This year, Comcast and Nusenda Credit Union will sponsor this platform for student entrepreneurs to showcase their innovations and hone their pitching skills in front of investors. The $20,000 prize pool, funded by Comcast, will be awarded to the five best individual or team presentations: Student entrepreneurs will compete for a $10,000 first place award, a $5,000 second place award, a $2,500 third place award, and $1,000 each for fourth and fifth place.

“We’re proud to power the dreams of these dynamic student entrepreneurs to help them grow and launch their businesses,” said Chris Dunkeson, Area Vice President, Comcast. “These students represent some of the best young talent in Albuquerque, and we feel confident that our investment will return dividends for our local community.”

“STC and the Innovation Academy are thrilled to be partnering with our community sponsor Comcast for this event,” said STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila. “This is a wonderful experiential learning experience for new and current student entrepreneurs from not only UNM and its branch campuses but for students at all New Mexico colleges and universities.  The Comcast Pitch Deck Competition allows us to take our entrepreneurial training programs to the next level and we are very grateful to Comcast for their generous support in helping us to achieve this goal.”

Innovation Academy Executive Director Rob DelCampo added: “This contest meets a critical milestone for our student entrepreneurs. The opportunity to do an investment-style pitch in this setting really complements the other educational opportunities we already offer.”

Pitch deck competitions go further than the typical elevator pitch by including visual representations and summaries for a new company, business plan or startup vision. The goals of a pitch deck are to spark interest from potential investors, meet investors and give entrepreneurs more experience presenting to large audiences. Judges look for quality of message delivery through non-verbal cues, (voice, eye contact, gestures, movement) and persuasive and creative content which “connects all the dots” toward commercialization.

The student finalists recently submitted five-minute videos, and their preliminary slides for review by the judges. Finalists have access to resources and coaching to help them prepare for the final, live round on Dec. 2. The five finalists competing in the finals are:

  • George Boujaoude, Computer Science, UNM, Tomas Manzanares, UNM Computer Science and Christian Seely, Computer Science, Bitekast – A podcast listening platform advancing the way we listen to podcasts.
  • Alissa Chavez, Communications, UNM, EasyFlo – An eco-friendly Baby Bottle
  • Sam Crooks, Computer Science, UNM, Film Spots – Online platform to scout and reserve film sites.
  • Anna Kuuttila, Master of Business Administration, UNM and Sara Kuuttila-Webbert, Liberal Arts, UNM, Smarter Starter – Children’s educational products tailored for children ages 0-4
  • Erik Strobert, Chemical Engineering, UNM, Perspective Components Inc. – Seamless integration  of artificial intelligence  and gimbal  hardware  to deliver perfect recordings.

The event is free and starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Lobo Rainforest Building. Community members, family, friends and supporters are invited to attend the final round. The five finalists will present 10-minute pitch decks to investor judges with five additional minutes of Q&A. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. To register your attendance go to ComcastPitch.Eventbrite.Com.

About Comcast
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses: Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky. Comcast Cable is one of the United States’ largest high-speed internet, video, and phone providers to residential customers under the Xfinity brand, and also provides these services to businesses. It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the Xfinity brand. NBCUniversal is global and operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts. Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services. It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed internet, phone, and wireless services. Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.

About Innovation Academy
The Innovation Academy is a mindset shared by the UNM Community that asks “how do we teach and learn best so that students are prepared for life beyond college?” Based on the Rainforest theory of a bottom-up approach to innovation, iA encourages different people and groups to come together to create.  It is a cross-pollinating approach to finding solutions to problems and developing new ideas. It is based on the belief that solutions can be found when people with different backgrounds and skills come together to work on real problems and needs coming from companies and the community.  This type of experiential, or hands-on, learning prepares students to be successful in careers and work places in the real world and deepen their core subject knowledge.  Visit innovationacademy.unm.edu for more information.

As the technology-transfer and economic-development organization for the University of New Mexico (UNM), STC.UNM (STC) protects and commercializes technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring them to the marketplace.  We connect the business community (companies, entrepreneurs and investors) to these UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of start-up companies. STC’s vision is to play a vital role in New Mexico’s economic development and to be a leader in technology commercialization.  Under the leadership of CEO Lisa Kuuttila, STC is substantially growing its program using the Rainforest model to develop an innovation economy in New Mexico.  Visit our website at www.stc.unm.edu.


Media Contacts

Julianne Phares

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