Lynn University business students pitch startup ideas


BOCA RATON, FL – Could the next Uber, Coin or Tesla Motors be incubating in South Florida? Local business leaders had a first row seat out when Lynn University students pitched their best new product or business ideas during the finals of the second annual Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge on April 24. The winner of the contest, Max Vanderploeg, will receive seed capital to further develop his concept from contest founder and Delray Beach entrepreneur Jeremy S. Office. Vanderploeg’s company, Autopark, proposed a stacked parking system that frees up space vs wasting it on parking spots. He suggested doing this at Lynn because of their growth and the tax write off doing something like this at the university. Visit for more on the idea. “When you’re starting a business, knowing how to effectively present and sell your concept is often just as important a factor in your success as having a detailed business plan and financial projections,” said Office, the founder and Principal of Maclendon Wealth Management and managing partner at SJO Worldwide, a venture capital company that specializes in investing in small to medium-sized businesses like the ones these students pitched. “Students who participated in the Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge learn by doing, as they develop, research and pitch a unique business or product to a group of successful area entrepreneurs.” During the pitch session, teams of up to five graduate and undergraduate students had 30 minutes to present their business plan to a panel of judges. The judging panel consisted of entrepreneurially minded members of the local business community who evaluated each pitch based on its creativity and innovation, financial viability, market research and verification, and other factors. “The Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge is an important learning opportunity for our students, helping to prepare them for the next step in their lives and their careers,” said Thomas Kruczek, Dean of the College of Business and Management at Lynn University. “This partnership between the university and one of our successful alumni also allows us to build bridges between the academic world and local business leaders, which further helps position our graduates for success.” Participants in the April 24 event, which was open to the public, had to clear several hurdles, including submitting a written synopsis of their business idea and making a 20-minute oral presentation of their business plan, before being selected to advance to the final round of the competition. All students participating in the competition learned to identify new and feasible business ideas, researched how those ideas can be brought to the marketplace, evaluated an idea’s financial viability, and developed a workable business model. “The U.S. was built by innovators who weren’t afraid to take risks. This contest offered students an opportunity to develop challenging ideas and take their own risks,” said Office. “One of our country’s great competitive advantages is our entrepreneurial spirit, and my hope is that this competition will nurture that spirit and help it thrive.” Office, who earned his Ph.D. in global leadership from Lynn University’s College of Business and Management, established the Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge in 2013 in honor of his late grandfather and their mutual love of entrepreneurship.