Student entrepreneurs showed off their big ideas to a panel of Florida business leaders Feb. 10 during the first Florida Polytechnic University and eMerge Americas Startup Pitch Night in Lakeland, Florida, at the Innovation, Science, and Technology Building.
Dorian Alberti, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, and River Anderson, a senior majoring in business analytics, pitched their idea for the Lumbar Relief Analog Exoskeleton (LRAE), a device that assists in the repetitive motion of bending and lifting for use in physically demanding positions such as warehouse work.
Their company, AlbertiAnderson Technologies LLC, won first place in the event.
“Winning this has been a great validation for the work we’re doing at AlbertiAnderson and it is such an amazing feeling to have people who are professionals and experienced in their field tell us that what we’re doing could be something,” said Anderson, of Orlando, Florida. “The experience we’re getting at Florida Poly has really enabled us to grow this company and do it in the right way.”
The pitch night was held in partnership with eMerge Americas, which hosts a large, international tech event held in Miami, Florida.
Melissa Medina, president of eMerge Americas, said the winners of the pitch night at Florida Poly would receive a spot in their March 2020 Global Start-Up Showcase in addition to a six-week virtual program, daylong in-person bootcamp, day of meeting with investors and technology leaders, and two passes to the tech event.
“Everyone did a fantastic job,” Medina told the room of student presenters at the competition. “You were very well prepared, very well spoken. We’ve done 25 to 30 competitions from October to now and you should be very proud of yourselves.”
Justin Heacock, Florida Poly’s entrepreneurship coordinator, said the partnership with eMerge Americas shows that the University is able to bring together business leaders from Miami and throughout Central Florida.
“Our students performed head and heels above expectations,” he said.
Caleb Shepard, a senior majoring in computer science, received second place for paperwalk.io, which he described as similar to the SquareSpace website builder, but for app development. He said he feels grateful to be in an environment that supports student entrepreneurs.
“It’s really empowering,” said the native of Tampa, Florida. “A lot of times when you have these crazy ideas, people will tell you to play it safe and finish school, but I never felt like I had to drop out to pursue my idea here because I was being supported by my University.”
In addition to the student competition on Feb. 10, a community pitch competition took place in the adjacent Aula Magna and featured entrepreneurial proposals such as a client rating app and a health coaching app.
“This is a global organization that can really give them the connections, resources, and training needed to move their business to the next level, and that’s what we try to do at Florida Poly – connect students to opportunities bigger than one individual,” Heacock said. “EMerge Americas represents a global opportunity that now our students have access to.”
Director of Communications