CREATE Pitch Competition Announces Top-place Business Teams at The University of Tampa

Published: Dec 8, 2011
University of Tampa students Ryan Linares '12 and Kyle Amicucci '12, and Anastasia Calcasola '14 and Austin Holmes '14 were selected as the first place teams in the business plan development program CREATE, powered by BNY Mellon Wealth Management and coordinated through UT's Entrepreneurship Center in the Sykes College of Business.

Linares and Amicucci created Audacis LLC, a start up that will license a technology that will allow drivers to use their cell phone to pass through any toll road in the US. Calcasola and Holmes created Rear View LLC, a start up that proposes manufacturing a multi-view mirror that allows users to easily check the back of their hair.

CREATE (Creating Real Entrepreneurial Actions Through Education) is an eight-week business plan pitch competition that takes students through a business boot camp. Sixteen start-up business ideas were pitched by 20 aspiring entrepreneurs, including graduate and undergraduate students from all colleges within the University.

The student finalists and winners were selected and mentored by area business leaders who represent various industries. Audacis LLC and Rear View LLC shared the winner's purse with each company receiving $2,500.

"The CREATE program was undeniably a life changing experience that completely altered my whole aspect in the widely ranged business world, especially interacting with the six final judges who offered exceptional instruction and guidance," said Calcasola, an entrepreneurship major from Oyster Bay, NY.

Rebecca White, director of the Entrepreneurship Center, said the program's goal is to create an entrepreneurial community on campus by allowing students to have access to entrepreneurship education and to be able to call upon an entrepreneurial mindset in decision-making.

"This kind of mindset will allow them to focus on solutions and use innovation to solve the problems they face in the world in the short term and also throughout their lives," White said.

Paul Szoldra '12, an entrepreneurship major and U.S. Marine veteran who served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including time in Afghanistan, started CollegeVeteran.com and placed second in the competition. CollegeVeteran.com is an online resource specifically for veterans and military members who are in the process or thinking about going to school. Szoldra, of Terryville, CT, received $750 for second place.

"The CREATE competition was an amazing experience. I went from pitching an idea to actually putting pen to paper and seeing if it was feasible. I was excited to be among the winners, but much more excited about the interest that my presentation has generated, and the help from other entrepreneurs in the community that has been offered," Szoldra said.