HomepageThe U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial StudiesBEAR Innovation 2024

BEAR Innovation 2024

On April 7, the U-Imagine Center hosted the 10th annual BEAR Innovation Competition. For the competition, participants develop a conceptual or early business startup, receive guidance from real entrepreneurs, and present for a chance to win $10,000 in cash prizes. 

The program is instrumental in supporting the Center’s goal of inspiring student startup activity and creating student business ventures. BEAR Innovation planning activities were led by Joe Shapiro ’24 with assistance from Tyler Griffith ’26 and the student ambassadors. Ten teams comprised of 12 students made it to the finals this year. This year’s competition was fierce with four teams presenting businesses that were up and running or in the pre-sale stages.

First place went to Julia Dees ’26 (Neuroscience) for Safe Haven Doula Support, a doula service that provides support for expectant and postpartum mothers. Marie Sykes ’24 (English and Astrophysics) took home the 2nd place prize with World Seeker Books, an online independent bookstore. Franco Mazza ’25 (Applied Economics) and Max Parnis ’27 (Applied Economics) placed third with Positivo, a water bottle company based on positive affirmations. The “Ready, Set, Go” prize went to second-time winner, Laura Bradley for advancing her sports media content marketing company.

Congratulations to all the dedicated participants for their outstanding efforts in the competition. We are grateful to our judges, Jen Cohen Crompton ’05, Matthew Knowles ’17, and Rob Gilfillan ’91, for their invaluable guidance throughout the event. A special note of appreciation goes to Will Abele and the Abele Family Foundation for their generous contribution of prizes. We also express our gratitude to the Saul Ewing law firm for offering pro bono legal services to several students and assisting them in establishing their LLCs, and our three additional program sponsors: Rob Gilfillan – Cenero, Phil Sapovits – Silverback Investment Partners, and Lee and Amy Griffith – Margaritas-2U.

We also received pre-event support from two Ursinus alums, Jon Gerhartz ’18 and Danielle Kuller ’18.

Jon led the Business Canvas Workshop to help BEAR Innovation participants solidify their business structure and layout. Jon discussed his role as a Data Analytics Manager at Voyager and how entrepreneurship has impacted his life.

Danielle led the Pitch Workshop. As a Senior Technology Consultant at EY, she leveraged her skills and knowledge to help students prepare and develop oral pitches and presentations for the competition.

Thank you to Jon and Danielle for sharing your expertise!

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