Despite a lack of in-person courses and the “normal” level of social interaction, New Mexico college and university students showed up (virtually, of course) in force for the Spring 2021 Rainforest Pitch Competition. Once again, students were only given one chance to submit a 90-second pitch to be judged by industry leaders. The virtual competition doesn’t have more than one round like the in-person version, so that means no do-overs. The judges’ choices are in and 10 students were awarded their share of the $4,750 prize pool.
"We are incredibly excited about all the contestants in this semester's pitch competition, it seems like they get better and better each semester, and it was incredibly difficult for the judges to pare down the winners,” said Rob DelCampo, executive director of the UNM Innovation Academy. “With such a great set of ideas, we are incredibly excited to get back to an in-person model to help them on their entrepreneurial journey and all be together for a face-to-face competition in the Fall."
The three top prizes of $1,000 each were awarded to Ishtiaque Anwar and Mahya Hatambeigi for their product LM1 – a patented liquid metal that can be used for many repair purposes. Savannah Hoover for Modest House, an app that provides the tools for New Mexicans to become real estate investors, and Benjamin Ali Parmoon for his video chat and gaming platform, My Virtual Grandparents, created to help combat the loneliness and isolation of senior citizens.
The seven remaining finalists will each receive $250, along with detailed feedback from the judges. Those finalists are Tina Memarian for “Digibill,” Naija Cuzmar for “IMS Pro,” Alejandro Goldston for “Decipher,” Isabel Last for “Faena,” Daniel Martinez for “Omnos Sleep,” Khandakar Nusrat Islam, Jared Kirsch and Abu Bakar Saddique for “Non-contact Elevator,” and Karlann Harms for “Personal Defense Products.”
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