Young entrepreneurs from Temple University took home top honors at last week’s College Pitch Philly competition, geared toward unearthing the top business concepts of undergraduates from Philadelphia’s colleges and universities.
Andrew Nakkache, FOX ’16, won the $7,500 top prize with Habitat, a mobile app that lets students and faculty to order food, via pickup or delivery, from their favorite food trucks and restaurants around campus.
Neha Raman, a sophomore international business major at the Fox School of Business, claimed the $5,000 second prize for Rungh, a create-your-own nail polish system.
Nakkache and Raman competed among 33 other students or teams of undergraduates Feb. 24 at the University Science Center’s Quorum. Organized by Campus Philly and the Philadelphia Regional Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (PREEC), College Pitch Philly offered a pool of $15,000 in prize money for new business ventures. After making two-minute pitches in the first round, six finalists delivered five-minute pitches and conducted five-minute Q&As to determine the winners.
The Fox School of Business’ Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) was among the founding members of the PREEC, which aims to connect students with Philadelphia’s startup ecosystem.
Through Nakkache’s Habitat app, users submit orders to their favorite vendors, who receive the orders via text, email, fax, or the app itself. Orders are completed in an average of 20 minutes, and then promptly delivered by Habitat’s student-led delivery force.
“We have scheduled shifts that pay $8 an hour,” said Nakkache, 23, a native of Dallas, Pa. “Whether a student makes one delivery or five within an hour, they will make a guaranteed wage. Our whole approach is in creating a top-tier user experience, from beginning to end.”
Habitat launched in September and has since on-boarded 21 food vendors near Temple’s campus, including 14 food trucks. He hopes to expand to Philadelphia’s University City section by the end of the academic year, and possibly to one of three East Coast markets by Fall 2016. This week, Habitat launched an off-campus meal plan that offers nearly a dozen pre-paid options, said Nakkache, who in January earned a degree in economics. (Users can receive a discount on their next orders with the promotional code TUfood.)
Raman first developed her Rungh nail polish system as a high school student, after struggling to find her favorite shades on the retail market. With Rungh, customers receive six nail polish bottles with a nail polish base, 18 color pigment capsules, and a battery-operated mixer, and disposable mixing wands. In only 60 seconds, users can create the nail polish shades they crave.
A trademarked system, Rungh is also patent-pending. It launched and made its first sales in November. The company served as the official nail polish of Philadelphia Fashion Week, which wrapped in February. The company is gaining traction via YouTube and Instagram from popular influencers, as well.
“At College Pitch Philly, I made a point of identifying my competition and target markets, and that worked in my favor,” Raman said. “Next, my goal is to continue developing the brand. I’d like for consumers to associate Rungh with offering a wide range of color choices, in nail polish or even other cosmetic products as we expand.
“But for now, I’m still in shock. I still have the giant check from the competition in my room.”