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College Cleaning Kit Wipes Up at Bluejay Tank Competition

May 12, 2022 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

A campus move-in cleaning kit, delivered to students lightning-fast, was the innovative idea that took first prize in Elmhurst University’s spring Bluejay Tank competition.

Several student entrepreneurs recently pitched their concepts in person to a panel of Elmhurst faculty and working entrepreneurs, competing for real-world business advice and a shot at more than $3,000 in prize money. The winners planned to use their prize money to accelerate their ideas to the next phase of development.

“Every semester the Bluejay Tank showcases the fresh talent, innovation and ingenuity of our students,” said entrepreneur-in-residence Patrick Yanahan ’94, MBA ’10, who facilitated the event and worked closely with the students beforehand to help them develop and prepare their presentations.

First prize, with a cash award of $1,500, went to Mark Picardi ’22, of Schaumburg, for College Cleaners—kits of pre-packaged cleaning supplies delivered directly to college students at move-in time. The third-place finisher from the Fall 2021 competition, Picardi returned to the Bluejay Tank with enhancements and new offerings to his business idea, hoping to win additional funding.

“What I liked most about competing in Bluejay Tank was developing my company further by perfecting current products and planning new products, as well as planning the future of the company,” said Picardi, who is majoring in logistics and supply chain management. “The biggest thing I learned is that it’s so important to listen to what your customers want, and provide them with the products they would actually consume and be able to afford.”

Lukas Munoz ’23, an international student from Santiago, Chile, won the $1,000 second prize for The Bluejay Nest, a non-profit, student-led campus food pantry. The Bluejay Nest would provide snacks and food items to all students, free of charge and regardless of level of need, as a way to address food insecurity, enable patrons to save money, and give pantry volunteers a way to serve the community.

The $500 third place finisher was Alec Goldberg ’23, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. His business idea, Label Up, is a support hub for aspiring record labels. Similar to the e-commerce company Shopify but for music startups, Label Up would provide subscribers with access to marketing, legal and other support services.

The $150 runner-up prize, sponsored by Sarpino’s Pizza of Elmhurst, went to first-year students Eric Tosoonyan and Efthymia Sidiropoulou, both from Thessaloniki, Greece. Their idea, Ride There, is a ride-share phone app exclusively for student riders and drivers attending the same university. The app would enable students to connect and make friends while also helping with errands and other transportation needs. The app would allow only university-verified drivers and riders to use it, to address safety issues. It also would be married to Google’s translation interface, helping international students connect in more than 108 languages.

The fifth contestant was Derek Rentner ’22, of Elmhurst, Ill., whose Bodyphone idea is an impact-resistant, waterproof and shock-proof case for smartphones that mounts to a person’s body, enabling hands-free filming and photography.

The judges were very impressed with the time and thought the contestants put into their business ideas, Yanahan said.

“The student effort showed, as I was getting updated texts and emails from some student presenters at 3 a.m. the day of the contest,” he said. “That shows real drive and dedication, no matter what they want to do in their career future.”

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