IC Awards Student Entrepreneurs with Funds on Demo Day

By Marisa Thomas ’22, November 20, 2018
Senior Nicole Marino wins $1,925 to launch her business idea.

Ithaca College held its third annual Startup Idea Demo Day on November 13, at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, where seven teams were awarded a total of $5,000 to advance their business ideas.

Nicole Marino won big, taking home $1,925 for her 28 kit, which women can use to clean menstrual cups more efficiently in public restrooms. Menstrual cups are reusable alternatives to tampons. Marino said she envisions turning the kits into a business of their own and selling them through menstrual cup companies.

“I talked to a lot of women who use menstrual cups, and they told me that they hated trying to deal with them in public,” Marino said. “I had experienced the same thing, and I figured it was about time someone came up with a solution.”

She plans on prototyping the product, getting feedback, going to PERIOD Con in New York City, creating a website and starting the business with the $1,925 she was awarded.

Marino’s prize was part of a grand total of $5,000 the judges divided among the seven finalists. She also won the sustainability award, as well as the audience choice. Both the sustainability and audience choice awards were worth $200.

Student entrepreneurs presented their ideas and requested money to advance their business ideas. Each team asked for a specific amount and explained how they would use the money to gain resources for their business. The panel consisted of three qualified judges who decided how much money each presenter was awarded. On the panel were Elise Steele, executive director of the Community Faith Partnership; Bill Guerrero, IC’s vice president for finance and administration; and Bryan Bower, executive director for the 76West Clean Energy Competition. Each team had four minutes to present its business idea and four minutes to answer questions from the panel. The seven teams that presented were selected from 18 applicant teams that gave their presentations in a preliminary round with the same structure.  Every team in the top seven was allocated funds, but some received less than the amount they asked for in their presentation.

“The focus here is not on launching great companies; it’s on educating students,” said Brad Treat, an instructor in IC’s School of Business who helped organize the event. “There are a lot of classes where you can look at business in a theoretical sense, and maybe work with a business in a real-world setting, but here you are the business.”