Lift Stick wins $50K in Hofstra biz plan contest

cpxi challenge winnersTop winners Nick Calderon and Kevin McCroary with Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz and CPXi CEO Mike Seiman.

Hofstra students Nick Calderon and Kevin McCroary won the $50,000 top prize in the annual CPXi VentureTech student business plan contest on Wednesday for The Lift Stick, a device that alerts the wearer to improper posture that could lead to lower back injury. The pair have already begun sales of the Stick, but will get a significant leg up in production and marketing with their first-place winnings.

Two teams tied for second place in the contest, winning $20,000 each. Quik, an Uber-like delivery service, uses a novel software platform to speed drivers to small businesses and individuals  at a fraction of the price of larger services. The company’s founders, students Christopher Davie and Jacqueline Hsu, are targeting suburban markets like Long Island, where thousands of businesses are spread thin over geographic sprawl.

The other second-place winner, audience favorite Pholder, offers a folding selfie stick that allows users to check their emails, text, Skype or watch online videos on their smartphones, hands free and with perfect posture. Imagine being able to cook while reading an online recipe or chatting with friends while eating, founder Matthew Pieri suggested to the judges.

A $10,000 third-place prize went to students Alex Grimaldi , David Guralnick, Andrew Marks and Kelsey Mester for their company, Prometheus Initiative, which hopes to produce an electromagnetic heat-driven generator constructed entirely from recycled components. The developing world offers huge markets for the device, the students noted. India alone has 410 million homes without electricity.

Now in its third year, the $100,000 CPXi Challenge was launched by Mike Seiman, a 2001 Hofstra grad (BS, computer science) and university trustee. Seiman’s NYC firm is a leader in Internet ad delivery software. 

This year, 14 student companies pitched a panel of judges led by Seiman and including CPXi execs, local entrepreneurs, faculty, and intellectual property attorney Pina Campagna of Carter DeLuca Farrell & Schmidt. Kevin Craig, head of Hofstra’s new Center for Innovation, organized the event with a team of faculty advisers and mentors.

Other finalists ranged from an environmentally friendly water company to a breakfast delivery service, a penicillin molecular target and a social media platform aimed at international students.