Elmhurst University student wins Bluejay Tank Pitch Competition with unique plant subscription service.
Sophia Haraus, a junior at Elmhurst University, emerged victorious at the Fall 2023 Bluejay Tank Pitch Competition. Her winning business idea, “PlantHeads,” offers a personalized plant subscription service. Haraus, hailing from Westchester, Illinois, claimed the $1,500 prize for her innovative concept.
PlantHeads delivers two plants, along with two pots and care instructions, in a monthly care package. The service aims to cater to individual tastes and preferences, providing a convenient and enjoyable experience for plant enthusiasts. Haraus stood out among seven contestants who participated in the Bluejay Tank Pitch Competition, held in mid-October.
The competition not only offered monetary rewards but also provided valuable feedback on the contestants’ business proposals from real-world entrepreneurs. The winners planned to utilize their prize money to further develop their ideas and take them to the next level.
Reflecting on her experience, Haraus expressed her initial apprehension but found the competition to be an exciting and rewarding journey. She appreciated the supportive nature of the judges throughout the presentation. Haraus credited the positive environment created by the judges for alleviating some of the nervousness she initially felt.
Claiming the second-place prize of $1,000 was Tobias Golberg, an MBA student from Palatine, Illinois, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Golberg presented his business idea called “Ez Bands,” which offers resistance bands with buckles. These innovative bands contribute to safer and more efficient workouts, providing users with a convenient and effective fitness accessory.
Lily Morgan, a junior from Villa Park, Illinois, secured third place and earned $500 for her dating app called “Hitch & Ditch.” This unique app assists users in finding plus-ones for various events, offering a convenient solution to the challenge of finding suitable companions for special occasions.
The remaining contestants also showcased impressive business ideas. Jennifer Bosas, a senior from La Grange, Illinois, pitched “Meekies,” a business focused on creating high-quality collectible plush toys. Melanie McQueen, an MBA student from Oak Park, Illinois, presented the “Bluejay Chirp App,” designed to keep students on track by reminding them about appointments, deadlines, and events.
Drew Medema, a senior, proposed a mobile boat washing and detailing service named “Paw Paw Lake Mobile Boat Wash & Detail.” This business aimed to clean and refresh the interiors and exteriors of various boat types, catering to watercraft owners’ needs.
Jessica Pavliukovecas, a senior from Des Plaines, Illinois, put forth the idea of a user-friendly car repair app called “Tune Up.” Her concept received recognition as it secured second place in the Fall 2022 Bluejay Tank competition.
The contestants faced judgment based on five criteria: the judges’ initial impressions of the business proposal, the delivery and presentation of the pitch, the quality of the proposal’s content, the excellence of the business idea’s digital component (including websites, databases, or apps), and the contestants’ ability to confidently and clearly respond to the judges’ questions. The addition of the digital component as a judging criterion aimed to encourage innovation and adaptability in the fast-paced digital world.
The panel of judges included renowned entrepreneurs Dennis Timpanaro and Kimberly Grotto Howard, co-founders of Gotivation, as well as student entrepreneur Venezia Munoz, founder of Vivid Existence and last year’s first-place Bluejay Tank winner. James Drury, the owner of Cornerstone-edu, and alumnus and entrepreneur Quincy Banks served as additional judges.
Elmhurst University’s entrepreneur in residence, Patrick Yanahan ’94, MBA ’10, emphasized the contestants’ exceptional presentations, which included detailed apps, databases, and websites that showcased innovative solutions for their respective business ideas. This emphasis on the digital component aimed to reflect the rapidly changing and technology-driven nature of the modern world.
The Bluejay Tank Pitch Competition served as a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to showcase their creativity and business acumen. The event not only provided contestants with monetary rewards but also invaluable feedback and recognition from accomplished professionals in the entrepreneurial field. The competition’s success highlights the entrepreneurial spirit and future potential of the participants, elevating Elmhurst University’s standing as a nurturing ground for innovation and enterprise.