Hofstra team 2nd at start-up challenge

A team including Hosftra senior Lucas Gallardo, above, A team including Hosftra senior Lucas Gallardo, above, pitched a start-up reminder app, Boyfriend's BestFriend, Friday at the Cross-Campus Challenge in Manhattan. The team won $2,000 in seed money. (Feb. 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Nancy Borowick

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As snow began falling in Manhattan Friday afternoon, Lucas Gallardo had more on his mind than the trip home amid the coming blizzard. The Hofstra University senior had just netted $2,000 in funding for his concept for a start-up company: a mobile application to help forgetful boyfriends and husbands.

Gallardo, 23, and his team were one of six student groups that participated in the first Cross-Campus Challenge, a competition run by Capital One Bank.

The contest pitted teams of student entrepreneurs from Hofstra University, LaGuardia Community College and New Jersey Institute of Technology against each other in pitching their start-up ideas to a panel of judges. The winner received $3,000 in seed funding.

Ideas from the student groups included an organic soap business and a medical devices company. All the participating teams -- two from each university -- had previously won challenges at their respective schools.

Gallardo's business idea -- Boyfriend's BestFriend, a smartphone app that helps remind boyfriends of important occasions with their significant others and suggests gift ideas -- took home second place.

Business ideas from teams with the New Jersey Institute of Technology -- a patch to numb the skin before getting a needle injection, and a medical stitching device to streamline surgery time -- won first and third prize respectively.

Gallardo said his team will be using the $2,000 for marketing, adding that the mobile application is about 80 percent developed.

By placing in the top three, Boyfriend's BestFriend will also move on to an online competition, a popular vote contest held on Facebook, for the chance to win an additional $3,000.

SmartLine, a wait-list management system for restaurants that do not take reservations, was the other Hofstra business that competed. Although the group did not place in the top three, it has funding from winning the local competition at Hofstra and will continue with plans to move to market, said Daniel Reitman, 25, a Hofstra senior who had the original idea for the business.

"The feedback was valuable," he said. "These kind of competitions will teach you what to do and what not to do."

Capital One has helped run an entrepreneurship program at Hofstra's Frank G. Zarb School of Business for the last four years. Through the program, students work together in a class to develop business ideas while being mentored by Capital One bankers and receiving course credit.

This is the first time the students have met groups from other campuses where Capital One has run similar entrepreneurship programs.

"I think the social process where they're meeting with other students and universities is magnificent," said Zarb Dean Patrick Socci, who attended the event.

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