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Mindfulness, DH delivery: Paladin Pitch competitors bring their brainstorms

One of the screens of the virtual pitch competition with Matt Reeve, manager of campus programs with Furman's Innovation and Entrepreneurship, pictured at right.

A student’s dilemma: She’s hungry. A pizza sounds good, heaped with toppings and brought right to the door. But ordering one through a delivery app means she pays for the pie plus the additional charges. Besides – and this is key – the student already has a meal plan. This particular pizza isn’t on it.

Brooke Dominiak ’23 has a solution.

She presented her meal-delivery service, To-Go Bro’s, during the Second Annual Paladin Pitch Competition on Monday. The virtual competition kicked off Furman Engaged, which takes place virtually this year on April 13. Dominiak’s idea was the audience favorite, garnering the most votes via Zoom and capturing the $10,000 prize to develop her venture. The sum is a combination of up to $10,000 in a seed grant and resources (coaching/mentoring, scholarship to Furman’s Summer Business and Innovation Boot Camp, co-working space on campus and off-campus in downtown Greenville.)

“I plan to capture the market in South Carolina entirely,” she said.

Brooke Dominiak ’23.

Dominiak’s company would deliver strictly on-campus food and charge a flat $4 delivery fee.

“Yes, there’s a similar company called Grubify located in New York, and that is great,” said the education and communication studies double major from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, “because it shows that this is successful, and we have the potential to grow.”

Dominiak did a test run of the company on her residence hall of 30 students, dinner only, and averaged three orders per day just. At that rate, yearly revenue would be $3,000, a tiny wisp of what it would be if she scaled it up to all three meals and went campus-wide.

Her goal is to go nation-wide.

As Dominiak explained it: With To-Go Bro’s, parents are happy because the meal plans they’ve purchased are not going to waste. The university benefits by having students purchase more food through their meal plans. And students are able to make money by working for To-Go Bro’s, delivering food to their peers on a flexible schedule.

“Help me to help students to stop skipping meals and stop wasting money,” said Dominiak.

After her presentation, she and the other competitors fielded questions from the event mediators, Harold Hughes and Nadia Kanagawa. Hughes is founder and CEO of Bandwagon, a Greenville-based identity infrastructure company that helps its customers manage, aggregate and store valuable consumer identity data. Kanagawa is an assistant professor of history and Asian studies at Furman who spent three years at Google Tokyo.

“The Paladin Pitch kicking off Furman Engaged is an outstanding example of The Furman Advantage,” said Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Students are provided the resources and platform to take a venture from idea to execution through mentoring, coaching and funding. Ultimately, our community benefits from these world-changing leaders and ideas from our students and alumni.”

Monday’s competitors also included:

David Kaszycki ’12, a business administration major from Winston-Salem, North Carolina

His venture  –  Beam Dynamics “Beam Dynamics is changing the way that film and broadcast equipment is owned and managed. Our intelligent platform analyzes lifecycle data to reduce downtime, increase asset lifetime, and predict critical issues before they happen on set.” He came in second and was awarded $5,000.

Christian Taylor ’21, a business administration major from Greenville, South Carolina

Her venture –  Project Conduit: A music studio that revolves around teaching independent artists how to market, promote and manage themselves. Taylor placed third and was awarded a combination of up to $2,500 in seed grant and resources – coaching/mentoring, scholarship to the Summer Business and Innovation Boot Camp, co-working space on campus and off-campus downtown Greenville.

Spencer Tate ’24, from Annapolis, Maryland

His venture – University Trash and Dash: a valet trash service for college campuses that focuses on sustainability and giving back.

Eli Titherington ’22, a public health major from Weddington, North Carolina

His venture –  Relax Rx: a community based app that provides resources and a platform for mindfulness and wellness.

The fourth and fifth-place winners and the Sleep While You’re Dead strategic design winners each received $500 and scholarship to attend the Summer Business and Innovation Boot Camp, co-working space on campus and off-campus downtown Greenville to launch. The funding comes from the Association Members for Furman’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and 100% of their donations are devoted to student programming in the institute, which is self-funded. To donate or to learn more about the winners, contact anthony.herrera@furman.edu.

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