Elmhurst University hosted the fourth annual Bluejay Tank on Monday, April 26, in the Buik Recital Hall to give students a platform for pitching business ideas.
This semester, prizes were given to the top four contestants instead of three. The first place winner received $1,500, second place $1,000, third place $500, and $150 to fourth.
First place went to Mark Picardi with College Cleaners, second place went to Lukas Munoz with Bluejay Nest, third place to Alec Goldberg with Label Up, and fourth place to Eric Tosoonyan and Efthymia Sidiropoulou with Ride There.
Picardi’s business, College Cleaners, sells baskets with cleaning supplies needed for a dorm room and also provides cleaning kits for cars. Picardi’s first place win in this Bluejay Tank comes after receiving third place at last semester’s Bluejay Tank.
“I know that I have a lot of work to do now, and I’m gonna take that money, and I’m looking forward to being able to do the work,” said Picardi. “It’s more about, I know what’s coming next, and I know I’m now able to meet it, arms open wide, or, like, be like Mike Tyson, and knock it out of the park.”
“To my Mom and Dad, thank you for all the help and the sacrifices that you made over the years. I love you guys,” followed up Picardi in a statement to The Leader.
The second place winner, Bluejay Nest, is a non-profit company that provides food to college students who are food insecure. It would operate in the same way traditional food pantries operate, allowing students to shop for food free of charge.
“So, this is a huge problem, food insecurity, but it also presents a great opportunity, and a great way to help our students,” said Munoz at the event. “The Nest will help meet the needs of our students.”
The third place winner, Label Up, is a company that provides marketing, legal, and operational resources to upcoming artists. According to Goldberg, the company will provide these services at the cost of a monthly subscription fee, and not take as much of a profit percentage as typical record companies do.
The fourth place winners, Tosoonyan and Sidiropoulou, came up with Ride There, an app similar to Uber and Lyft, but exclusively for college students. The app would be completely free of charge to students, and only allow them to get rides and be drivers.
Tossonya and Sidiropoulou spoke of the discomfort often felt by foreign exchange students when seeking transportation in a new country, and offered this app as a solution.
At the presentation, Sidiropoulou spoke of the solution saying, “So what our app is different from Uber, is that we want people to make connections with each other, we would want the people that they are in the university to make friends, to network.”
Patrick Yanahan, who organized the event, spoke to The Leader about his ecstatic feelings toward Bluejay Tank, and how impressed he was with the students’ pitches.
“I’m always very impressed with the uniqueness of the presentations,” said Yanahan. “You could tell that all the students certainly did their homework, all the businesses were unique in their own way, whether it was profit or non-profit, and so you could definitely tell that they did their homework.”
“It seems as if as we get out of COVID[-19], and we get into every semester, every you know, new semester, we really are seeing this gradual increase in student interest and student involvement, so I really gotta say the program has exceeded expectations,” said Yanahan.
This semester’s Bluejay Tank took place in person for the second time, the first two were held virtually due to COVID-19.