Seeing the Future

By Andrew Garoppo '24, May 13, 2022
Startup Demo Day gives students a chance to pitch entrepreneurial ideas.

At the 12th annual Ithaca College Startup Demo Day, held at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, a business incubator in downtown Ithaca, a new generation of up-and-coming entrepreneurs presented their business ideas to a panel of experts to secure a portion of funding.

Each student presented a slide show featuring their business concept, market projections, prototypes, plans for the future, as well as the amount of seed funding they were seeking and how they hoped to use it. The panel of judges — Lou Magrone ’04, DPT ’06, Leza Raffel ’89, and Chelsey Kingsley — had five minutes to ask questions and gain deeper insight into each concept. 

Denielle Newman ’22

A business administration major and member of the Ithaca College women’s golf team, Newman’s company is Deetz Golf, a female-owned, fashion-forward women’s golf apparel brand focused on creating high-quality clothing with style and mobility in mind for women of all ages and heights so they can look, feel, and play their best on the course.

Newman described how she always struggled with finding adequate golf clothing that fits all her needs.

“I've been looking to start this for a long time, I just didn't know how to actually start,” she said. “This semester, [school of business instructor] Ed Catto inspired me to simply start speaking to people about my idea, and I quickly realized that my vision could help many more female golfers than I initially thought.

“As a result, I was able to finally bring my idea to life and begin speaking with industry professionals, conducting market research, and reaching out to women golfers in my network,” she added.  

Newman was awarded $1,500. She plans to utilize this money to work with a designer to solidify a logo and brand image and for travel expenses to attend the PGA Show in Orlando, to speak in-person with other companies in the industry and continue to get the word out about her idea. The money will also be utilized to help create prototypes for her first three products, which include a high-waisted pant, a skirt, and a modern take on the classic golf polo.

Emmanuelle Bataille ’24

Emmanuelle is the founder of La Reprise, a company that creates undergarments designed to make recovery after childbirth easier and more comfortable.

“It was inspired by my own postpartum recovery journey,” she said. “I had my son 5 years ago at 18 and I remember the struggle of recovery like it was yesterday. It is very hard to find products that will support you. The mother’s recovery is often overlooked. However, it is very difficult to care for a baby when your body is healing from severe trauma.”

La Reprise received a $500 Audience’s Choice Award as well as $3,000 from the judges. The money will be used to file a provisional patent and to create a prototype and to then move to manufacturing.

“I hope to help women worldwide to have access to products made entirely to support needs and comfort after childbirth,” Bataille said. “I plan on filling a patent soon and have hired a seamstress to help in the production of the prototype and we are on our way to finalizing the design.”

Sam Williams ’23

Williams, a business administration major and U.S Marine Corps veteran, is part owner of Electric City Axe Throwing, an axe throwing range in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  The range offers projected game axe throwing, glow-in-the-dark axe throwing, private parties, leagues, tournaments, and a host of other activities.

He and his co-owner, Jose, met in the Marines and after getting their business off the ground, Williams returned to Ithaca College to complete his degree. He was awarded $1,500 and plans to use the money for new state of the art projector systems.  

Williams also appreciated the opportunity to take part in the event. “It was a good experience,” he said. “When we pitch for future investments, we’ll definitely be ready.”

Shevori Gene ’23 and Absa Beye ’22

Gene and Beye presented Raw Butta; a line of easy-to-use, artisanal, fragrant shea butter products that are high-quality, international, and environmentally friendly. The pair came up with the idea in a business class and tinkered with it based on their unique perspectives and experiences as international students.

The result was an inexpensive, fair trade African organic remedy to dry skin. Gene, a television-digital media production major, and Beye, and integrated marketing communication major, were awarded $2,000 plus an additional $250 sustainability award. They plan to use their winnings to purchase more raw materials and to market their product.

Joseph Pescatore ’22

A business administration major, Pescatore’s idea drew upon his experience as a hard-working college student who, like so many others, needs the occasional caffeine boost to get the job done. His solution?  Cognition — an energy drink with an adjustable and customizable concentration of caffeine in each serving. The drink is also sustainable and vitamin-rich, created with all natural ingredients.

He was awarded $1,000 which he plans to put towards bottle design, marketing, and continued research and development.

Demo Day began in 2010 thanks to instructor of management Brad Treat, and for years, Catto has helped organize the event, giving students from all majors the chance to have their ideas taken to the next level with guidance and financial support from well experienced business leaders, professors, and mentors.

“In a short time, it’s become a fantastic showcase for the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative passion of Ithaca College students,” Catto said.