Blog

April 27, 2016
Philanthro Parties Takes Home Top Prize at Emerson's E3 Expo

Last week, Emerson College held its annual Entrepreneurial Exposition, where 15 students showcased their entrepreneurial ventures and competed against one another to receive a combination of up to $5,000 in cash prizes and professional services. 

The day began with a keynote from Hubspot co-founder Brian Halligan, who shared insights on starting a business and the journey on how his company started. Having met his co-founder Dharmesh Shah in college at MIT, pitched the idea for Hubspot at MIT’s Business Plan Competition, and hired Hubspot’s first 10 employees from his classmates, Halligan emphasised the value of starting a company in school. 

Now in its 11th year, Emerson’s year-long E3 Program embraces experiential entrepreneurism by taking students through the stages of ideation, market fit, business planning and execution. Since its inception, more than 150 ventures have been created and over 30 percent of those have been registered into business. That’s 25 percent more than other entrepreneurial programs, according to the Princeton Review.

This year’s diverse group of students came from all majors, including marketing communication, communication science and disorders, visual media arts, writing, literature and publishing, and even theatre studies. What they shared in common, though, was their passion for their venture, their utmost confidence, and their support for one another.

Having taken the program last year, I could relate to how each student felt when they went up for the first time to pitch. I had never been so nervous yet so confident at the exact same time! After a year of the program, you develop such a close bond with the class as they see you grow through your ups and downs of starting something on your own.

“They say entrepreneurship is risky, but really anything in life is risky,” said Halligan. “If you have an idea, go for it.”

Students were judged by a panel of Boston-area academics, entrepreneurial, and business professionals. They were critiqued on the merits of each respective business in terms of pitch clarity, innovation, value proposition, market/competitive analysis, go-to-market strategy, and business sustainability. 

PARTIES WITH A PURPOSE

This year’s top winner, Philanthro Parties, connects celebrations with community engagement by helping party hosts create events which give back to nonprofits in the Boston area. Founder Alaina Belanger’s concept is to channel the money spent on birthday parties and other celebrations into donations and/or service time as part of the party theme.

“E3 was one of the most valuable classes I took at Emerson,” said Belanger. “Speaking with people who are currently entrepreneurs and other industry professionals was an inspiring way to spend senior year.

“I am so lucky to end Emerson by having my ideas and dreams validated in such a big way,” she added.

Belanger may have come out on top, but according to Lu Ann Reeb, the program’s director, everyone’s a winner.

"They're all winners to me,” said Reeb. “Seriously, seeing how these young entrepreneurs have developed their ventures in the past year from a flicker of an idea to a full blown business plan is a thrill! Watch out world!”

Here’s a recap of all the E3 2016 Winners

  • 1st Place $5,000 winner: PHILANTHRO PARTIES is a service that connects celebrations with community engagement by planning parties for socially-minded individuals and families in the Boston area. Alaina Belanger '16, Marketing Communication
     
  • 2nd Place $3,000 winner: PARTY PARCEL is a high-end "party in a box" sold online and delivered to your home, customized for people who enjoy a flair for creative inspiration in party planning. Marni Musmon '16, Marketing Communication
     
  • 3rd Place $2,000 winner: TRNGLE is an online community connecting freelancers with creative projects on the fly. Users create profiles and respond to work in open projects. Harry Holmes '16, Marketing Communication
     
  • Karl Baehr Memorial Scholarship Award $1,500: SPEECHKAT is a revolutionary iPhone APP that combines games and music to make home therapy easy, effective, and fun for children on the autism spectrum. Savannah Strange '17, Communication Science & Disorders
     
  • 2016 E3 Cohort Award, chosen by the studentsLEGITDEBATE.com, a website that promotes open and spirited debates on various political, social, community issues. Members rate the online debates to determine winners. Dan Halpern '16, Writing, Literature & Publishing

And a full run-down of all the 2016 contestants

  • Aesthete is a website for travellers featuring curated video stories highlighting uniquely authentic cultural natives (chefs, artists, m and musicians, etc) in major US cities. Jamie Calabrese ’17, Marketing Communication
     
  • Courtside is a live, virtual reality video service for fans to watch sporting events in a 360-degree seat and VR view at home. Max Cherry ’17, Visual Media Arts 
     
  • Green Arts is an online content curator for undiscovered performing artists who compete, entertain, and engage viewers about today’s most pressing social, environmental, and global issues. Jade Zaroff ’16, Theatre Studies
     
  • LegitDebate.com is a website that promotes open and spirited debates on various political, social, and community issues. Members rate the online debates to determine winners. Dan Halpern ’16,  Writing, Literature & Publishing
     
  • On Pointe makes its mark in Boston as the only retail store that provides a variety of premium dance wear along with a personable experience for dancers of all levels and styles. Cornelia Tzana ’17, Marketing Communication 
     
  • Party Parcel is a high-end “party in a box” sold online and delivered to your home, customized for people who enjoy a flair for creative inspiration in party planning. Mari Musmon ’16, Marketing Communication
     
  • Pathways is a mobile platform helping adventurers and scholars document and share their gap year experiences with others, turning stories into inspiration. James (Kimo) Gray ’17, Marketing Communication
     
  • Philanthro Parties is a service that connects celebrations with community engagement by planning parties for socially-minded individuals and families in the Boston area. Alaina Belanger ’16, Marketing Communication 
     
  • Plenish reduces food waste by making your grocery list simple with a device alerting you about what items in your refrigerator need to be replenished. James Carr ’16 & Jacob Forchheimer ’16, Marketing Communication
     
  • PocketDraft is the first fantasy sports app to be launched in China for pro-gaming spectators to create their dream teams and showcase their knowledge of the game. Mu Liu ’16, Marketing Communication
     
  • Speakeasy proves it may take a village to learn a second language with an app for people to connect, share, and experience their newfound language. Hamad Al Badi ’17, Marketing Communication
     
  • Speechkat is a revolutionary iPhone app that combines games and music to make home therapy easy, effective, and fun for children on the autism spectrum. Savannah Strange ’17, Communication Science & Disorders
     
  • Thunder is the first app for concertgoers to share real-time clips of the show on social media featuring original, high-quality sound directly from the band. Mitchell LaPierre ’16 & Alex Van Pelt ’16, Marketing Communication
     
  • Trngle is an online community connecting freelancers with creative projects on the fly; users create profiles and respond to work in open projects. Harry Holmes ’16, Marketing Communication
     

Manisha Tolani is a recent graduate of Emerson College, where she studied marketing, communications, and entrepreneurship. Follow her on Twitter: @manisha_tolani