Fast Pitch 2021 Recap

From catfish overpopulation in Southeast Asia to poor navigation systems for food and job insecure populations, this year’s Fast Pitch teams were startups tackling a constellation of real-world problems.
Columbia Engineering Entrepreneurship’s annual Fast Pitch competition, akin to Shark Tank, is a high-stakes highlight of the year for undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurs alike in the Columbia community. Last Friday, 31 startups came together to compete for their share of a pool of $5000 in prizes. Teams pitched their project in less than 60 seconds in front of a panel of judges that included SEAS alumni and previous Fast Pitch winners. Teams then had an additional 60 seconds to respond to judges’ questions.
The competition was fierce, and resulted in not only one but two ties…
In the undergraduate group, coming in first for a $1,200 prize was RivR, represented by Shomik Ghose, SEAS ‘23. Pitched as “a cross between Uber and Pokémon Go” for
completing everyday tasks, RivR is a freelancing platform for micro, day-to-day tasks. Ghose proposes that RivR will make any commonplace situation from being stuck on the side of a road without a spare tire to having to miss a college lecture because of illness easier.
In second place, Langavi Chocolates took home $600. Co-founded by Jorge Acevado Quezada, CC ‘23, and his father, Langavi Chocolates is an artisanal chocolate brand currently located in 1,200 stores across Mexico. Langavi Chocolates’ proposal is a new product: energy bar and premium chocolate fused into one. The idea was born from a hike Quezada was on when he realized he was tired of the plain granola we usually turn to for convenient energy; and thus he and his father came up with what became “an energy bar but more delicious, a chocolate bar but more functional.
Tied with two other teams in third place and winning $200 was Throworg, a smart household trashcan that turns both organic and inorganic waste into a sellable resource for partnering companies.
“Grow what you throw,” said founder Mariam Kamerji, BC ‘24. She hopes that by introducing Throworg’s
new sustainable waste lifecycle model, users will be able to cut their greenhouse gas emissions dramatically.
Also taking home $200 was Acute, a mobile app by Emily Lo, Barnard ‘24, that is hoping to change the way we take photos of ourselves. In a world of perfectly-angled shots and steeply-priced professional photography, the app lowers the barrier to taking good photos by recognizing the subject in relation to its surroundings, and offering users purchasable customized angles from local photographers.
The last finisher in third place was Petids, an app and online Chinese community to aid individuals in relocating their pets. Founder Debbi Jiang, BC ‘25, found the process of moving her corgi from China to the US frustrating, and wished she had a community as a guide for many pet-related logistics in a foreign country. Petids offers official relocation guides as well as personal relocation stories from community members to a large market of emigrating Chinese pet owners.
In the graduate group, the top finisher was PythonFix, a 3D printed surgical fixture for rotator cuff tears patented by Iden Kurtaliaj, PhD BME. Named after the teeth of the python which curve backwards to effectively hook into flesh, PythonFix grabs onto tissue rather than cuts through it, and Kurtaliaj expects the product to reduce the need for a second surgery by at least 20%. PythonFix received $1,200 from Fast Pitch, and is expected to generate $500 million of savings a year when implemented.
Two teams tied for second place, each receiving $650. Joanne, presented by Hannah Slaughter, MBA, is a compensation data-sharing platform for women with the goal of closing the
gender wage gap. Slaughter’s vision for Joanne is that it’ll be unique in the specific, granular, global data that it’ll offer on women’s wages and in the areas that matter to women, like post-maternity leave pay.
Also coming in second place was Joyshare, a Venmo-like mobile app for the transfer of stocks and cryptocurrency between friends with social media features like comments, likes, and options to create mini-funds. As its founder Charlotte Keys, MBA, says, “Who doesn’t want passive income?” Users will “come for the functionality, stay for the fun and financial self-improvement.”
Fast Pitch is expected to take place again next year, and in the meantime, entrepreneurs can look forward to the Columbia Venture Competition in the spring.