Entrepreneurship Graduate | Apr 29, 2019 | Gabelli School of Business
A Winning Pitch at Gabelli School of Business
By Claire Curry
Scheduling beauty appointments wasn’t something Brandon Adamson, MBA ’21, ever thought about until his girlfriend ran into some challenges managing her growing business as a makeup artist.
So he applied his business skills to devise a solution which translated into a broader business idea that ultimately earned him the $9,500 grand prize at the third annual Pitch Challenge hosted by the Fordham Foundry, a business incubator for entrepreneurs.
Adamson’s company, BeautiMaps Technologies, is a two-sided platform that connects beauty professionals with clients and facilitates scheduling, payments and managing social media.
“I’ve created a process and platform that helps beauty professionals with client engagement, customer acquisition, and increased consumer reach through marketing analytics,” he explains. “The world of beauty and fashion is ever changing and forever growing. I believe that the professionals who dedicate their time to helping others express their beauty deserve to do so without unnecessary pain points.”
Adamson began working on the idea back in 2016 before he enrolled as an MBA student at the Gabelli School. When he heard about this year’s Pitch Challenge, he entered with the hope of winning seed money to help move his business plan forward. He was one of 77 teams that entered the competition in January and among the remaining half that delivered their pitches to teams of judges on April 6.
“We put a couple of milestones on the path,” says Al Bartosic, executive director of the Fordham Foundry. Linked to the academic entrepreneurial concentration offered at the Gabelli School, the Fordham Foundry provides a wide range of resources to help entrepreneurs University wide shape and execute business ideas. Programs include classes, workshops and competitions. To date, the Foundry has also been home to 18 businesses.
“Entrepreneurship is everywhere at Fordham,” says Bartosic. “We try and cast as wide a net as possible, to all corners of the Fordham universe. That’s what the Pitch Challenge is all about.”
The winners of this year’s challenge and corresponding $25,000 in prize money reflect this broad reach: In addition to the Gabelli School, other winners include students from Fordham College at Rose Hill and Fordham Law School, as well as an alumna of the Graduate School of Social Work. According to Bartosic, sponsors are as equally wide ranging. They include Ernst & Young Ocaventures, BNP Paribas, Nasdaq Educational Foundation, Amazon Web Services, Sendgrid and Entrepreneurial Edge.
“Our secret mission is the learning,” Bartosic continues. “Students think they are entering to get the big checks, but we are trying to help them better articulate their business ideas.”
The Pitch Challenge process requires that entrants attend five mandatory group sessions, including coaching sessions, a law clinic, and an improvisation workshop to help participants refine their presentations, which Adamson found especially helpful.
“The three-minute pitch can be extremely difficult when you have an idea you’ve been working on for years,” Adamson says. “To bring that full circle and convey that you’re passionate, knowledgeable and profitable in three minutes is a real challenge,” adding that he also had to address the question of why a 6’3” 200-lb.-plus former football player would be in the beauty business space. Working in his personal connection turned out to be key.
And according to the judges, Adamson’s pitch was a winner.
“Brandon’s presentation was crisp and thorough,” says Ellen Fahey-Smith, associate vice president in the Office of the Provost at Fordham, who was one of the final judges. “He was passionate and articulate in describing the differentiating features between BeautiMaps and other competitors and providers of beauty and wellness services. He was well prepared and responsive to questions, clearly looking to receive advice that might further improve upon BeautiMaps services.”
There’s no doubt that this has been an exciting year for Adamson. His baby boy was born on March 14 just days before he headed to London for a capstone trip with his MBA cohort. “It was difficult to leave and a very trying couple of weeks,” he says, adding that he returned fully immersed in “daddy mode” while also preparing for the Pitch Challenge. “I was invigorated to make sure I brought this prize home.”
Other finalist judges were optimistic about Adamson and the future of BeautiMaps Technologies.
“It is a well-thought-out business that is prepared to hit the ground running,” says Adrienne Lotson, JD, a judge in the final round. “We have no doubt that it will succeed because it has identified and looks to fill needs on both sides of the equation: freelancers looking for clients and people in need of professional makeup services. I look forward to being a customer one day!”
2019 Pitch Challenge Winners
First place grand prize:
Brandon Adamson MBA ’20
Andrea Rodriguez FCRH ’21
Cassandra Basile Law ’22 and Justin Zamora (non Fordham)
Peace Starts Now
Jennifer Aleman GSSS ’15
Social impact award:
Joe Zoyhofski Gabelli ’21
Liam Scott FCRH ’21
Alex TenBarge, Gabelli ’21