CEO Funds Five Entrepreneurs at the 39th Annual Global Conference & Pitch Competition

CHICAGO – Nicholas Natasi, a student at Rowan University, won first place and $8,000 at the 39th annual Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) Conference and Pitch Competition held this weekend in Chicago.

Natasi’s company, 4U Medical Designs, is changing the status quo on intimidating medical devices like IV bags, feeding bags and syringes. The prize money will help 4U Medical Designs attend one of the best conferences in its industry, as well as secure licensed Disney images for the product – medical stickers affixed to IV bags and syringes.

Natasi was one of 100 student-entrepreneurs who participated in a month-long accelerator building a pitch deck on the platform PitchPages, and one of 20 who pitched their businesses live at the conference as part of the $20,000 Global Pitch Competition. These student-entrepreneurs had five minutes to pitch their startup business ideas to a panel of judges and investors, for a chance to win part of the $20,000 in seed funding. Sponsors of the competition were: the Singleton Foundation for Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship, the John E. & Jeanne T. Hughes Charitable Foundation, and The Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation. Runners up included:

  • 2nd place and $6,000 was awarded to Chad Tijgum of Rarities Market, the stock market for physical assets (such as rare coins), of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • 3rd place and $4,000 was awarded to Christal Hector of TuneHatch, a web-based platform that uses predictive analytics to maximize fan turnout, of Vanderbilt University
  • 4th place and $2,000 was awarded to Anna Belle Skidmore of Granola’d, turning foods that everyone loves into granola, of Lipscomb University
  • Collegiate Entrepreneur of the Year and $600 was awarded to Jake DiBattista of Educoin, connecting learning experiences to outcomes with the power of NFT’s.

Conference attendees networked with other entrepreneurial-minded students, listened to presentations from seasoned entrepreneurs and subject matter experts and participated in simulations, role-playing games and tournaments.

Keynote speakers at this year’s conference included Cary Singleton, of the Singleton Foundation for Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship, Jason Feifer of Entrepreneur magazine; Courtney Gras of AWS Startups, and Chris Heivly of MapQuest.

Randy Frye, second place winner of the Outstanding Chapter Advisor award and a reoccurring conference attendee, spoke highly about CEO. “For four decades as a professor, I viewed my role as an opportunity provider for students and subscribed to the notion that business education cannot be just taught in a classroom and through textbooks. It must be experienced. CEO is a global co-curricular free enterprise organization devoted to just that,” Frye said. 

The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), based in The University of Tampa’s Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, a part of Sykes College of Business, is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to “inform, support and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and to seek opportunity through enterprise creation.” From its inception in 1984, the organization has grown to approximately 16,500 members, representing nearly 250 college- and university-based chapters.