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HOLYOKE — Before an audience of more than 200 guests, including college presidents, faculty, entrepreneurs, and students, three students among 12 contestants from area colleges were selected as winners of the annual Live Elevator Pitch Contest on Wednesday at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House. 

The event, featuring a 90-second pitch, was part of the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative “Celebration of Entrepreneurial Spirit.”   


The three winners are: 


  • Matthew Fontaine-Dulude a student at Elms College, for Mall Specials, an app that provides location-based deals for malls and other retail stores. The app provides discounts and deals through targeted pop ups. The company garners revenue through advertising and sharing consumer information for more targeted shopping experiences;
  • Juliana Makonise, a student at Smith College, for Impumelelo Career Network, a career advisory firm connecting young people in Zimbabwe to professional development opportunities; and 
  • Alexandra Pinschmidt, a student at Holyoke Community College, for the Hip Squeezer, a safe, ergonomic device designed to significantly reduce the intense pain experienced during childbirth. Squeezing the mother’s hips together during contractions provides optimal relief and comfort.


Representatives from five area banks sponsored and judged the pitch competition —Berkshire Bank, Country Bank, PeoplesBank, People’s United Bank, and Westfield Bank. 

The event also included the presentation of the annual Grinspoon, Garvey & Young Alumni Entrepreneurship Award and $1,000 to an individual continuing to advance as an entrepreneur after previously receiving the Grinspoon Spirit Award. The 2022 winner is Mount Holyoke graduate Regina Ye, co-founder and CEO of Topsort, a company now valued at $110 million. Topsort has developed a state-of-the-art platform for conducting advertising auctions used by companies around the world to host revenue-generating advertising on their websites. Ye won the Grinspoon Spirit Award in 2017 for her entrepreneurial energy.