A trio of international students who are teammates on the soccer field won first place in the 2017 Hofstra-Digital Remedy Venture Challenge and $20,000 in seed money to launch a service that provides homesick ex-pats a taste of their native countries.
Finance major Henry Crayton, marketing major Rory Murphy and management major Lerthon Theuma, seniors in the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, came up with the concept for CountryBox, an e-commerce site that sells ex-pats customized care packages of their favorite foods from home.
The idea came to them while they were on a road trip with the men’s soccer team, said Theuma, a midfielder from Malta.
“We were discussing how much we missed goods from back home,” Theuma said, “and we thought, let’s look them up to see if maybe we could find these foods online. We couldn’t find them anywhere. We thought – why not start a business to help ex-pats like us?”
“This was our strongest competition yet,” said Mark Lesko, vice president for economic development and executive dean of the Center. “The commitment of the students, and the quality of their ideas and presentations were really extraordinary.”
A total of 86 applicants – the largest pool since the Venture Challenge began – entered the competition. Thirty-five competed in the semi-finals and ten teams faced off in the final round.
Each of the ten finalists submitted an executive summary of their start-up plan, and delivered a five-minute presentation to a panel of five judges: Seiman, Zarb School Vice Dean Janet Lenaghan, serial entrepreneurs Jeff Leventhal and Mukesh Patel, and former Northwell Health Chief Operating Officer Charles Trunz.
A trio of computer science students – Louis DeVito, MS ’18, Jacob Hochendoner ’19 and Adam Hussain ’19 – and their company LegalSoft, Inc., a Cloud-based software for attorneys called LegalSoft, Inc. took second-place and $12,500. Law student Farhaana Zainul won third-place and $7,500 for Bling Box, a monthly jewelry subscription service.
Two teams also earned $400 honorable mentions: Flare, an app that connects underrepresented consumers with local barbers and stylists, pitched by Nadif Bracey and marketing major Carrisa Anderson ’17; and Tell Me, a news curation service that would fact-check stories proposed by senior computer science majors Christopher Davie, Amy Topka and Zach Vampola.