The winners and judges at Sierra Nevada University's 2020 Pitch Competition, part of the Halden-Pascotto Business Plan Competition series.
14 students in 11 teams presented their business ideas in the Haldan-Pascotto Pitch Competition at SNU Tahoe on February 27th.

The Haldan-Pascotto 2020 Pitch Competition

14 students in 11 teams presented their business ideas in the Haldan-Pascotto Pitch Competition at SNU Tahoe on February 27th. Each team had 3 minutes to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges, followed by a 5-minute question round from the judges. A total of $1,000 was awarded to the top three competitors. This competition is the second step in the business plan competition series put on every year by the SNU Business Department.

The Winners of the Haldan-Pascotto Pitch Competition are:

1st Place

The Green Express – Joao Mendes – $500

The Green Express is coming to disrupt the fast-food market by showing that fast food doesn’t necessarily mean junk food. It serves fresh, 100% organic food that appeals to a variety of eating preferences using ingredients sourced from local farmers and suppliers. At the same time, it offers fast food convenience and speed with to-go boxes and a drive-thru option.

“Participating and winning the pitch competition made me believe in myself more. I think most of us have innovative ideas, but it takes courage to take those simple business ideas to the next level. Seeing how much effort was put into this competition by all the other participants motivated me to give my best.” – Joao Mendes

2nd Place

Spacess – Vanessa Visnovits and Dunham Lockhart – $300

Spacess is an app-based subscription service that provides affordable access to licensed psychologists at the tip of your fingers from anywhere. Vanessa was inspired by her own experiences with therapy after a bully nearly took her life in high school. The app also includes tools to help people cope with the waiting time between sessions. These include guided meditation and art therapy, an emergency hotline, and a chat room for subscribers to support each other.

“The foundation of Spacess is people. I truly love and care for people and I am always so honored when people come to me in confidence to share their stories. I would love for Spacess to become a reality to help those in need very much like myself. I want to thank Professor Breiter for pushing me to do this competition and for believing in me.” – Vanessa Visnovits

3rd Place

Curency – Austin Thomas and Monique Hurdle – $200

Curency is an online financial advising app. It targets millennials, to help them increase their financial literacy and be more prepared for life after college. It includes help to learn where to best invest their money, whether refinancing their loans is a good option for them, and how they can budget better.

The other pitches were:

  • Evergreens – Maea Winstrom
  • Big Mountain Memories – Caden Hansen and Chris Matusik
  • – Cole Lyon
  • Sugar – Keely Hagland
  • B-Chain – Kyle Mannix
  • Expedition X – Mitch O’Brien
  • Poly Hair Ties – Erika Razo
  • Dire Outdoors – Kevin Johnson

The annual business plan competition series is a cornerstone of Sierra Nevada Universty’s commitment to our students’ professional preparedness and entrepreneurial thinking.

The series begins in September, when students pitch their ideas to a panel of judges during the Innovative Idea Competition. With the feedback they receive, students then work with mentors and faculty members to develop their idea into a business proposition for the Pitch Competition.

In February, students present in the Pitch Competition. This fast-paced presentation helps students prepare for the competitive world of business.

In April, those who participated in the Pitch Competition are invited to the President’s Cup Business Plan Competition. There, they must deliver a fully realized business plan before a panel of judges. Students who participate in the Haldan-Pascotto President’s Cup Business Plan Competition compete for a combined $6,000 in prizes.

The Judges:

Our judging panel brought a range of expertise in many fields, offering students a wider perspective on their projects.

Ron Wall began his career in advertising. He conceived, designed, and built some of the world’s most innovative and successful loyalty programs, including the first co-branded credit card.

Roland Schumann is an entrepreneur, mentor, and former software executive who co-founded one of the first cloud-computing companies. He is currently President of the Sierra Angels Investment Group and a member of the SNU Board of Trustees.

Richard Offerdahl has held a wide range of responsibilities in more than a dozen companies he created over his half-century business career. He has been involved in computer sciences, medical devices, the pharmaceutical industry, and real estate.

Jim Steinmann began his career as an engineer. He had an illustrious career in aerospace and military systems planning, and started his own strategic planning consultancy. He sits on the SNU Board of Trustees and helped build both Prim Library and TCES.

Claudia Anderson is the CEO of The Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, Lake Tahoe’s oldest and largest community foundation. It is dedicated to the cultivation of community philanthropy to enhance and preserve the quality of life in Lake Tahoe.