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Eastern students pitch entrepreneurial proposals in inaugural competition

Published on December 19, 2023

Eastern students pitch entrepreneurial proposals in inaugural competition

Nineteen projects were presented by students in the competition.

First place went to Kush Patel for his Ecocix app.

Second-place winner Giovanni Otieno with marketing lecturer Ashon Avent

Third-place winners Vanessa Martinez Colorado and Alondra Abad with Ashon Avent

Entrepreneurial students at Eastern Connecticut State University pitched their projects to judges at a recent Department of Business Administration competition, with junior Kush Patel winning first place for an English-as-a-second-language (ESL) application he developed based on his own experience.

His app, Ecocix, is a free English-learning platform that allows users to choose two modes – “listen and write” and “read and speak.” It provides users with instant feedback on their progress.

Patel said he came up with the idea based on his experience in elementary and middle school, when he was in an ESL program for several years. There were few resources then for English learners.

“My motivation for investing time in building Ecocix comes from a desire to showcase the skills I acquired as a computer science major in college,” he said. “My goal was to develop a lasting project that I could showcase and something that would help others.”

He is improving the app by getting feedback suggestions from users. “I see it as a puzzle to solve, and I love puzzles,” he said. For more information, visit the Ecocix website.

Other winners in the pitch competition were Giovanni Otieno, second place, who proposed a renewable energy company, Mwangaza Solar Solutions, to harness sun power in semi-arid areas in Kenya; and third-place awardees Alondra Abad, Alejandra Martinez-Soto and Vanessa Martinez Colorado, who designed “CannaStay Suites,” a cannabis-inspired hotel with a CBD spa.

The competition was created by marketing lecturer Ashon Avent and will be an annual department event. It was sponsored by the Office of Career Success, the Eastern Foundation, T-Shirt World and the Windham Chamber of Commerce. Nineteen pitches were presented by 43 participating students.

The prize winners won awards of $800 (first place), $350 (second place) and $200 (third place).

The judges were Olugbenga Ayeni, professor of marketing; Sukeshini Grandhi, professor of business administration; Clifford Marrett, director of Career Success; and Joseph McGann, director of institutional advancement.

Written by Lucinda Weiss