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Young Entrepreneurs Win Awards at Grinspoon Banquet

HOLYOKE — In front of a crowd of 500 guests, including college presidents, faculty, entrepreneurs, and students, three students were selected as the winners of the 16th annual Live Elevator Pitch Competition Thursday at the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative Annual Banquet. The winners included:

• Alessandra Massa of Mount Holyoke College for MAIA, the first social network that supports female solo travelers looking to stay safe, share experiences, and save money;

• Edward McLeavy of Springfield Technical Community College for E-Z Salter, a fun and easy-to-use tool for salting driveways and walkways; and

• Alyis Woodward of Westfield State University for Woke Pillow, a weight-sensitive alarm-clock pillow that plays music and vibrates and is set with the user’s voice. It can also be set with an app for those who cannot speak well, such as the deaf community.

Representatives from six area banks — Berkshire Bank, Country Bank, PeoplesBank, People’s United Bank, United Bank, and Westfield Bank — once again sponsored the competition at the awards ceremony and banquet for the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. They also served as judges at the annual event.

The live event featured a student representative from each of the 14 participating local colleges. All three received $750. In addition, six student businesses were identified by the bank judges as Best Exhibitors. These were selected from a pool of 65 unique companies during a trade-show-type portion of the evening which featured the 2019 Grinspoon Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winners.

The winning exhibitors were: Grace Buttrick, Autumn Kelly, Cole Peterson, Nicolas Pantorno, and William Hroch of Western New England University for Blink Tek; Christine Clark of Westfield State University for Pespective; Jarrod Coletta and Eric Shilyuk of Western New England University for Bimiitech; Timothy Donahue of Elms College for FitLab Inc.; Eric Grigoryan of Holyoke Community College for GrigCinema; and Matthew Kaplan and Ethan Lazar of UMass Amherst for Costa Brava Cocktails.

The Grinspoon, Garvey & Young Alumni Entrepreneurship Award is presented each year to individuals who have advanced substantially as an entrepreneur since receiving the Grinspoon Spirit Award. Julie Bliss Mullen and Barrett Mully of Aclarity, LLC (UMass Amherst) were winners of the 2019 Alumni Award and $1,000. Aclarity is a water-technology company committed to providing clean, safe water for various applications globally. 

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