Center for Business and Economics hosts annual Zingale Big Idea Competition

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New and returning students brought numerous big ideas before the panel of judges in the 2019 Zingale Big Idea Competition.

Allegheny College’s Center for Business and Economics hosted its annual competition on April 26 and April 27 in Quigley Hall Auditorium.

The competition allowed students to present various entrepreneurial concepts for the chance to receive funding in four different areas, including for-profit business, not-for-profit social venture, research project and community engagement initiatives.

Students formulated their ideas into 20-minute presentations that they pitched to a panel of judges, emulating the experience of the popular television show “Shark Tank.”

This year, 22 Allegheny students participated, competing against five teams from Grove City College, Westminster and James Madison University.

The students competed to win a first place cash prize of $5,000 for the innovation of creative business concepts. The second place prize was worth $2,500 and the third $1,000. Finally, students had the chance to win $500 for an honorable mention.

Judges for the competition included Allegheny faculty and alumni, as well as business executives from around the country. The 2019 panel of judges was comprised of 13 judges, including alumni Lance Zingale, ’77.

After graduating from Allegheny, Zingale attended Lehigh University before beginning his career in sales, marketing and customer care with AT&T.

Zingale left AT&T after 20 years and moved to Colorado to become the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of  a New York Stock Exchange listed call center management company.

Zingale currently serves as the Chief Customer Officer, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SYKE, a global human and automation interaction business process outsourcer.

In 2017, Zingale and his wife made a $500,000 donation to the Center for Business and Economics to be used for business related internships, research and other educational opportunities for students.

In recognition of the Zingales’ generosity, the annual big idea competition was renamed in the spring of 2018.

New and old ideas were brought before the panel in the 2019 competition.

Aid Memoir, a communication app for patients of memory impairments and their caregivers tied in the 2019 Zingale Big Idea Competition for first place, along with Animatr.

Animatr, a streetwear company that is working toward redefining the negative stigma surrounding fans of Japanese art and animation, was founded by Christian Walker, ’20.

Natalia Buczek, ’19, was the originator of the idea for Aid Memoir. Buczek competed in the 2018 big idea competition and received The Next Big Idea, an award worth $1,000.

Buczek returned to the competition after working over the past year with partner Christopher Miller, ’19, to create the app for Aid Memoir.

“The idea was originally Natalia’s,” Miller said. “I just helped build the app portion.”

Miller was also not a new face to the competition. Miller placed second in the competition with partner Frank Chen in 2018 for their idea MunchYum, an on-campus food delivery service.

“I think the most helpful feedback from the judges last year was on how to craft financial projections and the idea of modeling for the worst case scenario,” Miller said. “That is probably what solidified our financial data for this year.”

Buczek and Miller are both continuing to work towards making Aid Memoir a success. Buczek has been meeting with professionals at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to discuss the fundamentals of the app.

“Our next steps are to continue to meet with medical professionals,” Miller said. “I myself will continue to fix and work on different bugs that the app is currently experiencing.”

Buczek and Miller were not the only students who received impactful feedback from the judges.

Daniella Clarke, ’20, presented A Healthy Twist to the panel of judges. A Healthy Twist is a food truck and home delivery service that is dedicated to providing healthy meal options and bringing awareness to obesity.

The judges suggested that Clarke donate and reuse leftover food from the truck.

“That is one thing I would like to hone in on,” Clarke said. Clarke is looking into ways she can donate to homeless shelters and give back to after school programs.

“It was so nice to see other young people thinking outside the box,” Clarke said. “I love that Allegheny gives students a space to follow their dreams.”

Clarke, the second place winner, hopes to continue to evolve her idea and begin working on the project once she graduates from Allegheny.

Although it may take a few years for Clarke to bring A Healthy Twist to life, some other big ideas are already up and running.

Abraham Duncan, ’20, created his own online clothing store — Never Go Hungry.

Duncan received an Honorable Mention in the Zingale Big Idea Competition.

The idea originated during Duncan’s first-year at Allegheny, when he and some of his friends from the football team ran out of meal swipes.

“Everytime one of us had five or ten, we would make sure everyone in our group ate,” Duncan said. “That is where Never Go Hungry came from.”

Duncan wanted to start a movement, while also making money.

“I did not like that feeling of not knowing when I was going to eat,” Duncan said.

While Duncan’s company has been operational since September of 2018, Duncan explained that the Zingale Big Idea Competition was fundamental in helping him learn the business side of his idea.

“(The panel) was immense help,” Duncan said. “They saw the cause and understood how passionate I was about it. They definitely held out a helping hand.”

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