KENT-repreneur is a deep dive into the business, tech and entrepreneurial efforts at Kent State. Host Anna Huntsman attended the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (CEBI) Pitch competition and sat down with one of the winners.
On April 11, audience members trickled into the Student Center Governance Chambers for the CEBIpitch Competition. Seven finalists were getting ready to pitch their companies to a panel of judges with the chance to win cash prizes, including a $15,000 check for the winner.
As the attendees settled into their seats and the event began, backstage, contestant Nahuel (Nano) Gorostiza was starting to get nervous.
“I thought I was goimg to go blank and not be able to say anything for five minutes,” he recalled.
After the first three finalists pitched, it was his turn.
“I got down there and all the nerves went away, and I just felt like I had all this energy,” he said.
Gorostiza presented his pitch and answered questions from the four judges all in a matter of about 10 minutes. At the end of the competition, he and his team were awarded the first-place prize.
“For us, $15,000 represents a big possibility, a big issuance of trust toward our idea that makes us realize we have to do this,” Gorostiza said. “If people really believe that we deserve to place first, it means that this is real.”
Gorostiza grew up in Argentina and came to the U.S. to attend Kent State when he was 18. He said joining the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity gave him a home away from home, but the negative incidents reported in Greek life nationwide, such as sexual assault, hazing and crime, startled him and his business partner and fraternity brother Matthew King.
“We saw that fraternities are here for a good cause, but they’ve been suffering lately,” Gorostiza said. “There’s been a lot of bad incidents happening with a lot of bad marketing and bad media for fraternities nationwide, and also causing unrecoverable harm to victims that definitely need help, and we need to prevent these cases.”
Gorostiza and King wanted to create a way for people to have a safer experience at fraternity events.
They developed GreekDoor, an app that would provide a registration and monitoring service for party hosts and guests.
“Right now, (if) you try to go to a Greek event on the weekend on campus, you’re going to have a couple people at the door and they’re going to ask you, ‘Who do you know here?’” Gorostiza said. “Instead of asking those questions, these organizations will be able to create an event, register through the app and invite the people with the software.”
The app would only allow people who received a mobile invitation to the event to scan a QR code and enter. If it’s an open event, people can scan only until the capacity of the space is reached.
When the user leaves the party, they will be checked out.
Users would create a profile with information like their name, picture and emergency contact info in case an incident would occur.
Gorostiza said the information will never be given out, unless the user causes trouble or needs some sort of assistance.
“If the local law enforcement department or the local authorities request our information, we’ll provide it, making sure we can tie victims and attackers, and solving those unconcluded cases,” he said. “(It’s) also acting as a deterrent against those people that want to cause trouble. ... We can hold them accountable.”
Gorostiza acknowledged Greek-sponsored events can come with activities that students might not be comfortable doing while being tracked, such as underage drinking. He said GreekDoor recognizes that concern, but says users shouldn’t worry.
“Underage drinking is an issue, but it’s not what we’re focusing on, because it would be impossible for us to prevent that,” he said. “What we want to make sure is that we provide a safer experience for those having fun.”
Gorostiza said GreekDoor will use the CEBIpitch award money for travel to gain investors.
“The CEBIpitch award will help us fund our travels to participate in other competitions and conferences,” he said. “So the best way we have (at GreekDoor) to expand our platform and get people to know us and what we’re about and help us make this a reality and help the change is going out there, participating in as many conferences and contests as we can and getting people to know us.”
He said they also plan to use the money to work toward a patent once the app is developed, which they anticipate will be in December. Gorostiza said the GreekDoor team hopes the app will be used in Greek life across the country someday.
“We want to make sure Greek life is not only supporting the community, through service hours and philanthropic events, but also providing the fun space for people that want to have fun on the weekends in a safe way,” he said.
“We envision this happening, and we envision college life being a safer space, and being this place where everyone can have fun and feel safe about it.”
To learn more about GreekDoor, follow them on social media @GreekDoor or visit their website.