Preview: Sage Tank 2019 to showcase entrepreneurs on campus

Gabriel Piscitello, a white male college student with dark brown hair wearing a light grey shirt and grey shorts sits across from Diego Vergara, a latino college student with a beard wearing glasses and a light blue denim jacket. They sit at a table in a classroom, writing notes and talking.
Gabriel Piscitello PO ’20 (right) offers advice to Diego Vergara PO ’20 on his start-up pitch in preparation for Sage Tank. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

It’s not often that students have the time to create an idea for a startup — let alone pitch those ideas to see if they could happen.

But that’s exactly what Sage Tank is all about. The event, which will be hosted by Pomona Ventures, a 5C club focused on promoting student entrepreneurship, will gives student groups the chance to pitch their startup ideas to Pomona College alumni.

The Shark Tank-inspired event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. May 3 at Rose Hills Theatre. Before the event there will be an opportunity for students to network and meet alumni.

After an introduction from the emcee, Erica Barry PO ’19, each of the four teams will have seven minutes to present their startups to a panel of judges. The judges will then have five minutes to ask questions and make comments.

In between groups, Mimi Thompson CM ’21, president of Pomona Ventures, plans to have entertainment acts such as a business-themed sketch from Without a Box, a 5C improv group.

Jean Selasi Adedze HM ’19 is pitching a startup named BuzzTop. In a message to TSL, Adedze said his “team is focused on innovating solutions that make Africans less indebted to chance when it comes to commuting. Unlike in western countries where commute involves checking fixed bus schedules and planning accordingly, in Ghana, my home country and many other African countries, this is not the case.”

Adedze said there are no schedules to follow and getting to an unfamiliar destination is difficult without having someone who knows the area.

“My team is trying to build mobile solutions that take away this huge level of uncertainty when commuting,” he said. “Work on my Sage Tank presentation has mostly been weekly/biweekly meetings with the Pomona Ventures team and they’ve been of great help in refining the problem statement, solution and the content of my pitch deck.”

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Text Me Tampons is another startup company that will be pitching at Sage Tank. Created by Sabrina Chung SC ’20 and Ali Parker SC ’20, Thompson described the pitch as an on-demand tampon service.

“Text Me Tampons … is an app that delivers period products in a time-sensitive manner directly to you,” Chung said. “[The app] allows you to order from your phone to receive a tampon, pad, ibuprofen, chocolate or entire box of tampons wherever you are across the 5Cs.”

Rent the GoPro will also be featured at Sage Tank. Pitched by Diego Vergara PO ’20, the company provides a rental service for GoPros, since many people buy them and leave them around without using them on a regular basis.

Akshay Trikha HM ’21 and Matthew Krager HM ’21 created a startup named Cash Post, an app service utilized by local businesses, specifically restaurants, to use social media and word of mouth to generate money.

Trikha explained the idea behind their venture.

“After talking to some restaurants in the Village, we realized that [the] people [who] follow them on social media are returning customers, not new ones,” he said. “However, when returning customers post about a business on their profiles, businesses get access to a customer’s friends, who may potentially be new customers. CashPost is a platform that allows businesses to incentivize their customers to share their experience with them on social media, the digital word of mouth.”

Discussing the pitching process, Krager said that articulating one’s ideas is not as easy as it seems.

“Something that sounds useful in your head often sounds barely coherent when you first try and explain it to other people,” he said. “For me, Sage Tank has been an opportunity to refine and perfect our idea.”

The Sage Tank winning group will win $1,000, the second team will win $500 and the audience vote will determine the experiential prizes teams can win — such as a one-on-one meeting with a major company. There will also be a raffle that anyone can enter for prizes such as gift cards for places in the Claremont Village.

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