Three startup companies with UMass Amherst ties earned cash prizes at the inaugural “Amherst Pitch Night” at AmherstWorks last week.
The event, hosted by representatives from UMass’s Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, AmherstWorks, Hampshire College Entrepreneurship and Valley Venture Mentors, consisted of five judges who collectively picked the top three places. The audience also voted for a fourth winner, given a $100 prize.
UMass students sophomore Hadley Beauregard, junior Hailey Charest and senior Bryanna Lexus Freitas won first place for “Bac-Be-Gone”, an organic, non-toxic, antimicrobial cleaning agent with the power to kill pathogens on contact, took home the $600 grand prize.
Senior Benjamin Schroedar’s “Learn to Wrench”, a business that teaches people car repair on an as-needed basis, won $300 for second place. His company aims to save people money by teaching them how to repair their own vehicles and supply them the tools, instead of bringing their car to a repair shop.
“Both our winning student groups are active participants in the Berthiaume Center,” said Gregory Thomas, Executive Director of the Berthiaume Center. “They continue to work with their professors and other campus resources to advance their ventures to the next stage. Their winnings at the Amherst Pitch Night show that others are starting to notice their efforts and progress as well.”
Shiri Dori-Hacohen, a UMass CICS ‘15 and ‘17 Ph.D. graduate, won the audience vote with her company, AuCoDe. AuCoDe is an AI-based Fintech startup that detects online and social media conversations that can affect equity prices.
The cash prizes were paid by sponsors PeoplesBank, The Mill District, AmherstWorks and Western Mass Economic Development Council.