San Francisco Advantage

Student Entrepreneurs Pitch Business Ideas, Compete for Startup Funding

by Sydney Tweedley ’26, USF News

Got a big idea? Ever wanted to pitch it, Shark Tank style?

At the second annual Startup Summit, presented on campus by USF’s Startup Club, five teams pitched business ideas to four judges with experience in the startup world. One team received $10,000 from the Office of the Provost to fund its project.

The judges: Pete Slosberg, co-founder of Pete’s Brewing Company; Trey Roldan, CEO of Etranda, a data engineering company; Dushyant Pathak, founder of VentureEdge LLC; and Umyeena Bashir MS ’23, who returned to USF as a judge after winning the pitch competition last year for her women’s-health startup, ColorpHul.

Students were given five minutes to pitch their ideas.

Valerio Mirarchi MBA ’24 pitched, an AI learning companion for students learning new languages. Mirarchi, who designed the software with 26 other students, called a product “from USF students to USF students.”

Entrepreneurship and innovation students Usman Sarwar MS ’26, Erin Richardson MS ’24, and Jesse Mark MS ’24 pitched PersaVR, a subscription service that “can enhance the lives of our elderly population” through personalized virtual reality games that improve mobility, reaction time, and balance, said Mark.

Hemil Doshi MBA ’24 pitched Trasic, a search database he and Jarvis Stack MBA ’23 developed to “provide unprecedented visibility into global trade data” to companies in the global market.

Mir Ali Zain ’25, a data science major, pitched Lex.edge, an AI tool that uses a database of approximately nine million public case laws to generate written arguments for attorneys. “What would’ve taken a lawyer days to complete, we can do in seconds,” said Zain’s partner in the project, finance major James Burell ’26.

Andrew Saah ’25, an environmental science major, and entrepreneurship and innovation major Owen Sordillo ’24 pitched FLARE, software that predicts wildfires.

The judges deliberated. First place: Lex.edge. Second place: FLARE. Third place:

“After a year, I’m pleased to see how much the Startup Club has grown and how many amazing startups are coming out of the University of San Francisco,” Umyeena Bashir said.

Interested in making a pitch next year? Contact Johnathan Cromwell, professor of entrepreneurship and innovation.