(Updated, 2 p.m.)
PROVIDENCE – An idea for a container that can quickly heat and cool beverages won a Brown University student $300 Wednesday at the annual elevator pitch contest sponsored by the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.
Brown University senior Theresa Raimondo had 90 seconds to deliver her pitch to a panel of judges and more than 200 audience members.
Raimondo, niece of General Treasurer-elect Gina Raimondo, presented a concept of using compact thermoelectric technology in a beverage container to heat or cool any drink between 50 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit within 90 seconds.
Raimondo said she and six fellow undergraduate students have been working to develop the concept, called HnC (hot and cold), as part of an entrepreneurship class. The chemical engineering major said that the team believes such a container could revolutionize the beverage market.
The competition attracted 48 aspiring entrepreneurs. Judges had initially intended to whittle the list to 30 for judging but, in a last-minute change, decided to hear everyone. Contestants ranged college students to veteran business people.
“The energy and excitement – along with the record number of participants and observers – indicates just how vigorous, broad and deep the entrepreneurial spirit is in Rhode Island,” said competition Co-chair Larry Davidson. “Everyone, participants and judges alike, did a tremendous job.”
And while judges selected Raimondo as the top winner, they also awarded cash prizes to nine other contestants.
- Joseph Ramos, of Axena Technologies in Providence, received $200 for his plan for a start-up company to combat health care-associated infections.
- Dan Aziz, of PriWater in Providence, received $200 for a drink to help pregnant women decrease the chance of some birth defects.
- Nick Garrison received $50 for plan to make Providence-based High Jinx Brewing Co. into a regional and national brand of craft beer.
- Tyler Rowley, of Providence, received $50 for TonightInRI.com LLC a website geared towards people seeking information on dining and nightlife information in Rhode Island.
- Jacob Frick and Andrew DeSoiza, students at Providence College, shared $50 for Fan Treck, a website that provides sports fans with the ability to plan trips based around their favorite teams.
- Michael Giroux, of Furtile Foods in Providence, received $50 for an idea for the Furtile Food Truck, which serves natural, locally grown foods from a mobile kitchen.
- Anshu Vaish, a Brown University student, received $50 for WaterWalla, a social venture providing access to clean water in urban slums through the development of local sustainable microenterprises.
- Meg Wirth, of Maternova Inc. in Providence, received $50 for her company’s effort to create an online marketplace for life-saving global health innovations.
- Kathleen Swann, with Leadership and Learning Group LLC in West Greenwich, received $50 for OOWOW, an educational game for children that develops reading skills.
The elevator pitch was a precursor to the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, which will award more than $150,000 in prizes to entrepreneurs that present a business that could blossom in Rhode Island. The deadline to enter the competition is April 4 and winners will be announced in May.