March 2022 VC Pitchfest Winners Announced (IT/Consumer Edition)

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Each semester, the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute and the NYU Innovation Venture Fund hosts two VC pitchfests - one focused on IT/Consumer Ventures and the other focused on Deep Tech/Life Science Ventures. These events are a unique opportunity for NYU student and faculty entrepreneurs to present their startups and innovations to Venture Capital Investors, fellow NYU entrepreneurs, and the wider startup community in a friendly competition. For each event a select group of startup teams are invited to pitch in front of real venture capital investors to get unfiltered feedback on their pitch, and candid advice. 

The following teams were selected to pitch at the VC Pitchfest (IT/Consumer Edition) on Tuesday, March 1st from 4:00 - 6:00pm ET via Zoom:

  • Sabai Design: Phantila Phataraprasit (Law '20) and Caitlin Ellen (Stern '22)
  • Arium: Aidan Nelson (Tisch ‘19)
  • SheMatters: Jade Kearney (Steinhardt '20) and Marguerite Pierce
  • Middlemen: Brandon Lee (Gallatin ’22) and George Li
  • Jivika: Ayman Mukerji (Silver '21)


Here’s what happened.

The IT/Consumer VC Pitchfest on March 1st saw five teams pitch. All teams had been actively participating in programs at The NYU Entrepreneurial Institute and making significant progress. First up, two teams who had previously pitched in a past VC Pitchfest event joined us to share a 3 minute quick pitch update of their progress. The quick pitch teams were:

  • Sabai Design: Phantila Phataraprasit (Law '20) and Caitlin Ellen (Stern '22)
    • Sabai Design is the next-generation sustainable home brand making conscious living accessible. The company is capturing the fast-growing demand among Millenials and Gen Zs for affordable, transparent, and sustainable furniture. Their approach to sustainability is comprehensive - from materials, manufacturing, to end-of-lifecycle solutions - and has built a loyal and animated community. (NYU Summer Launchpad ‘20 and NYU Female Founders Fellows)
  • Arium: Aidan Nelson (Tisch ‘19)
    • Arium creates engaging 3D virtual art exhibitions to bring story and context to artwork and connect with the community in a shared social experience wherever you are in the world. (NYU Summer Launchpad ‘21)


After the updates, the main event started and the full pitches began.


Up first was SheMatters, co-founded by Jade Kearney (Steinhardt '20) and Marguerite Pierce.  SheMatters is a platform designed to support Black women who experience postpartum anxiety and/or depression through community, culturally relevant resources and culturally competent mental health care professionals. SheMatters participated in NYU Summer Launchpad ‘20 and Jade Kearney is an NYU Female Founders Fellow.


Next to pitch was Middlemen, co-founded by Brandon Lee (Gallatin ’22) and George Li.  Middlemen is an authentication and handling service for safely swapping collectibles online. Middlemen participated in NYU Summer Launchpad ‘21.


Last up was Jivika, founded by Ayman Mukerji (Silver '21). Jivika works with frontline caregivers to reduce burnout through a mindfulness based approach. The product combines a series of workshops with a digital one-on-one trainer to teach mindfulness through micro habits. Ayman Mukerji is an NYU Female Founders Fellow.


The panel of Venture Capital Investors evaluating the pitches included Jillian Williams, Principal at Cowboy Ventures, Dave Fan, Venture Investor at Alumni Ventures, William Agathis, Investor at Greycroft, and Nicole Ripka (Stern ‘23), Investment Partner at DormRoom Fund.


All five teams showed real traction as well as a deep understanding of their market. They each received detailed feedback on their pitch from the judges, and while the judges deliberated, the audience had the chance to vote for their favorite to win the Audience Choice Award!

After deliberating for about 20 minutes, the judges returned and announced the following winners:

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the judges who participated!

If you have a business that you’ve been building that you would like to be seen by the venture community here at NYU, let us know by signing up for a coaching appointment. We’d love to hear about what you’ve been working on!