CUNY Startups program holds inaugural ‘CLASH’

Shania DeGroot

The CUNY Startups program is hosting its first CLASH, a pitch competition between the seven CUNY colleges this spring.

The competition allows students to develop an idea that solves a problem facing the world today. There will be three rounds within the competition, and the finalist will have the chance to compete for the grand prize of $35,000. The submission period for the contest ran from Feb. 8 to March 22.

Participating CUNY colleges include Baruch College, Bronx Community College, Brooklyn College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, College of Staten Island, Lehman College and Queens College.

To compete, students were required to create a 90-second video of their idea and fill out a form online for the first round. For the second round, the judges will ask contestants to expand their idea and present it in a video. The finalists, ranging from four to six students, will compete for the top three places, which are accompanied by prizes.

In January, CUNY Startups met with several committees from various institutions to form partnerships. Amazon Inc., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, which previously sponsored many accelerated programs, and Baruch alum Budd Goldman of Final Word Investments LLC are sponsors of the program.

The idea of the competition came after the announcement to discontinue CUNY Hackathon, a program that embodied both entrepreneurship and software development. CUNY Startups’s board of directors desired a replacement program with the same level of outreach as the hackathon, allowing it to be open to all institutions.

The program’s time requirement is strict, and it is to be completed over the weekend. In comparison, CUNY Hackathon had significantly lengthier requirements throughout the week.

“I wanted to do something a little different, which says that we’re not going to be judging the idea on how big it is, but just how you know the idea,” Remy Arteaga, the executive director of CUNY Startups, said in an interview with The Ticker.

Submissions will be judged based on how clear and understandable the video and idea is presented. The mentors will provide advice throughout the second round.

There will be many types of mentors available to students. For example, investor mentors will be on hand for people who have previously invested in startups, and entrepreneur mentors will be available for those presently running a business, along with academic mentors or mentors who are affiliated with students and have previously mentored students.

CLASH serves as a beneficial program to CUNY students by allowing them to first identify a problem and then allowing the students to solve the problem through various stages.

“That experience of just going through that process is really beneficial to their future careers,” Arteaga said. “They’re going to be able to expand that network through the mentors and the judges that see them, which will have a rippling effect as it moves forward.”