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Aspiring Entrepreneurs Compete in Annual ‘Spark Tank’ Event

Endicott College's Spark Tank event.
CropShop took home the top prize for their app that connects chefs and restaurateurs with food producers.

Endicott College’s entrepreneurial spirit was on full display Monday at the FUEL/Angle Center for Entrepreneurship “Spark Tank” competition.

Five teams of aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to angel investors, with CropShop emerging as the “Spark Tank” winner, followed by Landscape Connect.

CropShop is a social platform aimed at connecting chefs and restaurateurs with food producers such as farmers, craft food producers, and seafood harvesters, with the ability to buy and sell products. Co-founders A.J. Marcinek (CEO) and Cam Bleck (head of engineering) will run their business from the Angle Center for Entrepreneurship under supervision by its director and entrepreneur-in-residence as they enter their senior year in the fall.

Landscape Connect, the brainchild of freshman Stephen Solimeno, creates a better experience for landscapers and clients alike. With a focus on increasing retail customer satisfaction and increasing customer retention rates for landscapers, Solimeno's app allows homeowners to set a personalized schedule for their property, direct message their landscapers, and manage payments.  Landscapers can use it to assign work, send invoices, and give real-time alerts when work is completed. Solimeno was also the winner of the Cork (Ireland) APPrentice 2018 International award.

Thanks to the generosity of presenting sponsor TD Bank, a $10,000 grant was divided between CropShop ($7,500) and Landscape Connect ($2,500) to help lift their pitches from ideas to reality.

"The buildup around Spark Tank, Endicott's annual business pitch competition, always amazes me,” said Deirdre Sartorelli, director of the Angle Center for Entrepreneurship at Endicott College. “The energy on campus is palpable because students know that all of their work on their startup for the past academic year has prepared them for this moment. TD Bank has been a wonderful partner to our student startups this year and we look forward to that relationship expanding."

Each of the entries made rocket-round pitches to an esteemed group of judges – TD Bank Vice President for Small Business (Northeast Region) Jugmi Rao, Endicott College Board of Trustees member and Controller of Colmar Belting Company Michelle Labossiere, and Gloucester Innovation Founder and Angle Center for Entrepreneurship Executive-in-Residence Ric Upton.

The judges then whittled the field to the semifinalists. Those Endicott community members then made their full pitches before final deliberation.

“I see how hard these students work, day in and day out,” said Sartorelli. “Now take a five-minute pitch, add an enthusiastic audience coupled with a panel of highly-accomplished judges who themselves are entrepreneurs, and you have what has quickly become the premier business plan contest on Boston's North Shore."

Spark Tank is one of many exciting initiatives undertaken by FUEL, the student business accelerator at Endicott’s Angle Center for Entrepreneurship.