Stevens Institute wins Mission 50’s 1st Hudson County-wide collegiate Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition

Young entrepreneurs from four of Hudson County’s higher education institutions competed for $5,000 — and the chance to turn their idea into a reality — as Mission 50 in Hoboken hosted the finals of its first countywide Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition on May 18.

The grand prize was awarded to Stevens Institute of Technology student Arianna Gehan for “Daia,” a diabetes management tool.

“Daia helps patients with Type 1 diabetes live better by creating a digital twin that aggregates real time health data and uses AI (artificial intelligence) to push actionable insights,” said Gehan, who was supported by academic adviser Mukund Iyengar. “In the future, Daia aspires to help everyone with a chronic medical condition, not just diabetics.”

In the Mission 50 Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition, students developed ideas for a business, product or service and then presented the idea to a panel of business experts, who selected the winning idea. The format is similar to the television show “Shark Tank.”

Mission 50, the boutique office and coworking community developed and managed by JDA Group LLC, has a long history of fostering entrepreneurship and business growth in the Greater New York City marketplace. JDA CEO Gregory Dell’Aquila founded the Innovation and Commercialization Lab at Mission 50 in 2021, providing dedicated office space to support the entrepreneurship programs at Stevens, Saint Peter’s University, New Jersey City University and Hudson County Community College.

Mission 50 also donated $5,000 to each school to help fund their individual, preliminary round, university-led pitch competitions.

The winning teams were invited to the May 18 finals.

The other student teams that competed in the finals were:

  • HCCC: Timothy Moore, Amber Gutierrez, Isaiah Montalvo and Amar Arslanovic. Pitch: “Biodegradable Golf Tees,” a new way of making golf tees using pistachio shells, a food industrial waste product. Academic adviser: Clive Li.
  • NJCU: Alan Cruz and Dominic Pepe. Pitch: “NFL Gold Zone,” a marketplace for NFL fans to buy, sell and collect NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, created by the NFL and individual players. Academic advisers: David Weiss, Lauren Johnson and Michael Arbitblit.
  • Saint Peter’s University: Valeria Calle. Pitch: “Venus Lashes,” uplifting women’s beauty through eyelash extensions and brow design services. Academic advisers: Mary Kate Naatus and Chanaz Gargouri.

The students pitched to a panel of judges that included Mike Luzio, co-founder and managing director of the LVE Group; Minalkumar Patel, founder and CEO of Abacus Insights; Frank Corvino, CEO at Genesis Research; and Carey Balogh, Brand Groupies founder and “chief executive groupie.”