This Thursday, December 16, the Tisch Center of Hospitality Innovation Hub hosted its first “Pitch Your Passion & Seal the Deal'' event as part of its Incubator program. The program’s inaugural fall 2021 cohort consisted of six finalists: Dinesurf, Hotel+, Kenta Ramen, Our Vintage Earth, Swagger Gaming, and Urban Safe.
Congratulations to Kenta Ramen, founded by 2019 NYU SPS Graduate School Management Information System Alum, Daniel Liu, for winning first place in this semester’s competition! As a 2019 NYU SPS Graduate School Management Information System Alum, Daniel Liu, also expressed how happy he was that this experience gave him a chance to reconnect with the NYU community; “NYU is a closely connected community with a rising focus on startups. HI HUB Incubator has put together a great inaugural program by connecting the cohorts to industry leaders with diverse backgrounds and expertise. The mentorship in the program helped our project Kenta in a variety of ways including product-market fit, initial launch, and team building. The connection and bond we built with all the mentors last beyond the end of the program. It is always encouraging to know that a strong and resourceful community is out there for us to seek advice from as we build and grow the venture”.
And to the second and third place winners, Swagger Gaming, founded by Ranel Castro, and Dinesurf, founded by Martins Udotai! All participating teams presented incredible pitches and it was such a pleasure for attendees to see all of the teams’ accomplishments, and just how much each business has grown through the program. The founders stressed what a great experience the Incubator Program has been for them, and how the relationships formed with their respective mentors have turned into genuine friendships. Dinesurf founder Martins Udotai, a 2021 NYU Tandon Ms. Mechanical Engineering graduate, reflects back on his experience, "As an early stage hospitality-entrepreneur being part of an accelerator that wasn't generic but specific to hospitality, with very strategic mentors from the hospitality industry really helped shape a lot of what Dinesurf has achieved in this Quarter. The mentors helped in making an introduction to key partners on behalf of Dinesurf in the hospitality industry".
In addition to providing valuable mentorship and feedback, the Incubator Program allows businesses the opportunity to compete for cash prizes. The first-place team receives $10,000, and then second and third place both get $5,000 in funding. The “Pitch Your Passion & Seal the Deal” event gave each team eight minutes to present their business pitch, followed by a three-minute rebuttal in response to any of the judge’s questions. The pitches offered insight into their businesses, including the problem they are trying to solve, the solution offered, economic models, key competitors, etc.
Businesses were scored by a distinguished judge panel on their business model, product and originality, market, and team. Aside from the program prizes, this unique experience also leaves an opportunity for investors to reach out to the respective businesses if interested.
On behalf of the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, thank you to all the industry professionals that participated in the program and provided teams mentorship over the course of the semester. With the inaugural cohort now having completed the program, it will be exciting to see all that the program continues to achieve and the new mentors joining for spring 2022. Also, special thanks to Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality’s Associate Dean, Nicolas Graf, PhD, and Incubator Program Director, Recep “Richie” Karaburun, DPS, MBA, most commonly known as “Dr. K”. This program would not be possible without their efforts and contributions!
Anyone interested in joining the Incubator Program’s spring 2022 cohort can apply here - applications are due January 31, 2022.