2021 Spring Hawk Hunt Business Pitch Competition Winners Announced

Pitch competition winners
Winners: Alyssa Viscardo '23 (Left), Kevin Kim '23 (Middle), and Harvey Gibbs '24 (Right)

The Barney School of Business hosted its third annual UHart Hawk Hunt Business Pitch Competition in a virtual format on Thursday, April 15.

The Hawk Hunt Business Pitch Competition provided students the opportunity to pitch their business ideas in front of an esteemed panel of alumni judges and get valuable feedback. In addition, the competition winners earned a mentoring session with a group of innovation executives. The mentors, Sam Broomer, Kim Goodwin, and Ben Yin, who also serve as members of the Barney School of Business Board of Visitors, will offer help with polishing the winners’ business concepts and hands-on preparation for other statewide and nationwide events, such as the Connecticut Elevator Pitch Olympics.

“What a terrific event with the engagement of students from multiple schools within the University, faculty, alumni, and Barney Board of Visitor members. There’s so much interest and pride in seeing the talent of our students,” says Steve Mulready, dean of the Barney School of Business. “The creativity and diversity of ideas were so impressive. We’ll need to invite ‘angel investors’ the next time we hold this event!”

This spring, 14 students representing the Barney School of Business; College of Arts and Sciences; College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions; College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture; The Hartt School; and the Hartford Art School participated in the competition.

Irina Naoumova, the department chair of Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship and Milena Erwin, Barney School faculty member and Women’s Business Center program manager, are the main organizers of the pitch competition. Naoumova explains that to support innovation and entrepreneurial activities across the University, Barney has made the Hawk Hunt Pitch Competition an every-semester event. “Members of the Barney Board of Visitors and University alums are judging the pitch competition and sharing their feedback with participants,” she said. “We want to make it a signature UHart campus-wide event and help entrepreneurial minds from all colleges benefit from it.”

“The interest has been wonderful, and it is a great opportunity to practice and get valuable feedback,” Erwin says. “It is so exciting and rewarding to see the creative ideas and the entrepreneurial passion of our students!”


I entered into the pitch competition to not only pitch a business idea but to work on my presentation and public speaking skills. This competition gave me an opportunity to apply the knowledge I've learned at Barney so far into a real-life scenario.

Alyssa Viscardo '23, Business Analytics & Managerial Economics Major, Barney School of Business, First Place Winner
Hawk Hunt Pitch Competition Zoom
Judges giving feedback on contestants' business ideas

Following the competition, the winners were presented with cash prizes: Alyssa Viscardo ’23 with LifeLine received first place and a prize of $700, Jee Woo (Kevin) Kim ’23 with Life Pillow and Harvey Gibbs ’24 with Aqua Smart tied for second place and received cash prizes of $400 each.

The winners and their business ideas were: 

1st  Place: LifeLine—Alyssa Viscardo ’23, Business Analytics & Managerial Economics, Barney School of Business  

LifeLine is wearable technology in various forms such as scrunchies, bracelets, and watchbands that connect with an app through which the user can call police or contacts to give their exact location.

"I entered into the pitch competition to not only pitch a business idea but to work on my presentation and public speaking skills,” Alyssa says. “This competition gave me an opportunity to apply the knowledge I've learned at Barney so far into a real-life scenario."

2nd  Place (Tie): Life Pillow—Jee Woo (Kevin) Kim ’23, Acoustical Engineering, CETA 

Life Pillow is an environmentally friendly pillow that deals with the mask pollution waste crisis by repurposing used disposable masks as the stuffing for a pillow.

"The Hawk Hunt Business Pitch is an irreplaceable experience,” Kevin comments. “It was a great learning opportunity—anyone who joins will get something out of it."

2nd  Place (Tie): Aqua Smart—Harvey Gibbs ’24, Exercise Science, ENHP

Aqua Smart is a flotation device that extends from the fingers to the full length of the arm, helping alleviate pressure off of the armpits and also bring pressure off of joints and muscle tissue.

“Participating in this competition was not about the money but about the experience. I am grateful for all I have learned since partaking in this competition,” Harvey says. “I really enjoyed participating because of the valuable information I learned while being a contestant”. 

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Sally Wang