Suffolk students are eager to turn their big ideas into big businesses.

And on November 19, 2013, they shared their ideas with those who matter most—potential angel investors who can give them the funding they need to get their ideas off the ground.

The Entrepreneurship Trade Show, open to all students, alumni, faculty, and friends, drew 110 participants and 417 guests. The guests voted for their favorite ideas.

The 2013 winners include Abdulla Alnajar, Nicholas Chammas, Bilal El Yaman, and Karan Gopwani. The students came up with a hands-free umbrella called Intrella (short for Intelligent Umbrella). The umbrella attaches to your backpack, is blue tooth enabled, and has a built-in thermostat.

Meet the Angels

Two angel investors also judged the pitches as they looked for possible investment opportunities.

James D. Tollman, managing partner of Tollman Capital Partners, founder and CEO of a hospitalist firm, and an angel investor in many diverse ventures, rated the students’ proposals and offered feedback.

Roman Wunderlich (BSBA '10) also served as a judge. Wunderlich’s career started with negotiating the sale of a major home improvement chain. He went on to become sales director of a sports agency and founded several startup organizations. Today, he’s a founder of his own small angel investment fund.

Tips From an Angel Investor

If you want to participate in next year's trade show, Wunderlich has some advice for you.

  1. Within the first five seconds, I can tell right away if I’m dealing with a straight shooter or a salesman. People who pitch and sweet talk their own product, make it seem unbelievable and lose credibility right away.
  2. When you throw out numbers or facts, be ready to back them up. Nothing is worse than bad math or finances. If I put you on the spot, you should be able to shoot out an answer quickly and accurately.
  3. Lastly, and to me, most importantly—do a little homework on the investor before you pitch. We all have personalities, hobbies, and interests. Take that and run with it. Help us identify with you and your pitch, and let me know how my strengths in business will create a synergy within your business. Cater to the ego of the investor.

What does he look for in a pitch? Be honest and have the numbers to back it up, he says.

"As long as it can make a quick ROI, I'm interested. Get to the point. Tell me your product, the size of the market, how much it will cost, and how much it will return, worst case. No sweet talk. I'd rather hear humble numbers that are correct than heavily inflated lies that try to get investors to look at them with big blue eyes," he says.

Ideal Pitch Workshop

The day before the 2013 Trade Show, the Suffolk Ventures alumni group also hosted the Ideal Pitch Workshop, where three alumni coached 10 students on pitching.