The third annual UPitchNJ, an innovative statewide collegiate business model competition showcasing the Garden State’s top young talent, will be held Friday, April 20 from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Montclair State University’s University Hall Conference Center, Montclair. New Jersey’s college students, faculty, alumni, friends and the public are all invited.

This year Princeton University will be represented by Keller Center's BlockX, which builds decentralized applications to help people reclaim their privacy and data on the internet.  BlockX, who recently won the TigerLaunch 2018 competition, is comprised of five Princeton University undergrads who will also be part of the Center's Summer 2018 eLab Accelerator Program.

The competition is sponsored by the New Jersey Collegiate Entrepreneurship Consortium, which represents the entrepreneurship education programs at New Jersey’s four-year colleges and universities. Fourteen universities will compete in the third annual competition: Drew University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Monmouth University, Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Ramapo College, Rider University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, Saint Peter’s University, Seton Hall University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and William Paterson University.

Judging the students’ pitches are: Jessica Gonzalez, founder & CEO of InCharged; Jackson Jeyanayagam, chief marketing officer of Boxed; S. Philip Kennard, CEO of Futurestay; Elizabeth Vilchis, founder & CEO of latinoTech; Ed Villa, tax partner at EY; and Kimberly Weisul, editor-at-large at  

Tom Wisniewski, managing partner, Newark Venture Partners, will deliver a keynote address to kick off the event. Montclair State University’s Dean of the Feliciano School of Business, Greg Cant, will welcome the crowd.

Each university will send a student team that has launched a startup or a new venture in development to compete for the prizes.

“UPitchNJ showcases the best and brightest young entrepreneurs from all over the Garden State,” said Dennis Bone, founding director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at Montclair State. “When a company decides to relocate to New Jersey or remain in the state, one of their top criteria is the Garden State’s well-educated workforce, especially people who possess innovative problem-solving skills. These students are excellent examples of that.”

Student teams will be judged on the innovativeness and originality of their startup idea, and the quality of a written Executive Summary and oral presentations. The contest judges will also be looking for creative and innovative thinking about markets, products and services. The teams will be evaluated on their perceived ability to execute the idea and turn it into a viable, profitable business, and/or venture with significant social value. 

The competition’s aim is to highlight the ingenuity and creativity of today’s college entrepreneurs, who are increasingly launching businesses from their dorm rooms.  As entrepreneurship educators in New Jersey, we want to provide our entrepreneurial students with a networking forum with other students, mentors and potential investors.

We believe that this competition will help brand New Jersey – home to Bell Labs and Thomas Edison – as the innovative state that it is, plus encourage young entrepreneurs to develop their businesses here, leading to economic growth and job creation.  


Student teams will compete for the following prizes:

1st Place (sponsored by PNC Bank): $2,000 award plus Coaching Session with Mario Casabona, founder, TechLaunch; Coaching Session with David Sorin, McCarter & English.

2nd Place: $1,000 plus Coaching Session with the NJ Innovation Institute at NJIT; Coaching Session with NJ Tech Council.

3rd Place: $500 plus Coaching Session with entrepreneur David Stengle, Startup Grind.

Best Early-Stage Startup: $1,000 Plus Coaching Session with entrepreneur Greg Olsen, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Princeton University. This prize is for an innovative idea that is in an earlier stage of development.

Audience Choice Award: $100 Starbucks Gift Card since java fuels startup teams.


PNC Bank is the sponsor of the first-place prize. The event’s other supporters include Withum, New Jersey Technology Council, TechLaunch, Startup Grind Princeton, New Jersey Innovation Institute, Inc., McCarter & English, and American Entrepreneurship Today.


For more information, and to register for this free event, visit the contest website:

Directions and parking info for the event:

Those interested in becoming a supporter of the UPitchNJ event, can contact Susan Scherreik, founding director, Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Seton Hall University, and chair, UPitchNJ Planning Committee, at or (973) 275-2251.

Press Contact: Sharon Waters, Program Manager, Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, Montclair State University, or (973) 655-6803.    

On social media: #UPitchNJ