College of Business > News & Events > Students and Alumni Virtually Pitch Their Startups for Cash Prizes
By Nadia Alfadel Coloma /
May 27, 2020 /
Posted in: Alumni, Research and Centers, Students /
The Fourth Annual Purpose Pitch Competition, hosted by the
Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, took place virtually this year like many other events across the university in recent weeks. Faculty, staff and students gathered via Zoom on May 19 to hear six finalists — three DePaul students and three DePaul alumni — pitch their businesses for prizes that ranged from $1,000 for third place and $5,000 for the grand prize.
The finalists had three minutes to impress a panel of judges, who this year included entrepreneur and mentor John Crosson; Tammy McMiller, founder of Plan Heal; and Grant Chamberlain, a strategy and corporate development director at Legal & General Investment Management America.
Purpose Pitch highlights purpose-driven startups founded by DePaul students and alumni. Judges select a student winner and an alumni winner by determining which company has a clear and innovative business model for serving the greater good in Chicago communities. Business student Victoria Martin Del Campo, a double major in entrepreneurship and economics, took home first place for her startup Let's Liink, an app that offers a platform for student commuters to connect and ride together to decrease the chances of being targeted as a victim while commuting on public transit. She founded Let’s Liink in September 2019 to create a safety network for university students after she experienced an incident of theft on a train last summer.
“I was determined to find a solution that prevents people from encountering similar situations,” Martin Del Campo says. “Becoming the Purpose Pitch student winner for 2020 has been a great experience because it has demonstrated that other people, besides me, believe in this project and see that there is a real need in the market to address this issue. My goal with Let’s Liink is to make commuting a positive and safer experience. I’m excited that the prize money will allow me to further develop my app.”
Winning the first-place alumni prize was Rocco Guarino (BUS ’18), who studied management with a concentration in entrepreneurship and finance during his time at DePaul. His startup, Meals From the Heart, delivers homemade meals to front line health care workers, prepared personally by Guarino’s family. The idea spawned in mid-March, he says, when his family began cooking meals for friends who are nurses working overtime to keep up with COVID-19 patient demands.
“Front line health care workers stood by my family’s side while my father, Vito, had years of heart failure and eventually received a successful heart transplant in 2017," Guarino says of his business. "Now we're returning the favor by giving the Chicago community a platform to support their front line with homemade meals. In the future, Meals From the Heart will expand to support community groups facing food insecurity.
“I am honored to be connected to the Coleman center resources for life as a DePaul alumnus,” continues Guarino. “Winning Purpose Pitch will allow Meals From the Heart to supply an additional 400 individually packaged, donor-signed, homemade meals to front line health care professionals across Chicago by May 31. This will bring our total delivered meals — and smiles — to 1,500. With the remaining prize money I will set up a 501(c)(3) and continue enhancing my website.”
The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center has another purpose-themed competition in the works this spring— the
COVID-19 Idea Challenge. The competition invites DePaul students to submit innovative ideas aimed at helping entrepreneurs solve problems and navigate the challenging business landscape brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Participants will compete for $1,000 in scholarship money, and seven winners will be announced the week of June 1.