Interactive Greeting Card Idea Wins Annual Elevator Pitch Contest

PROVIDENCE, RIAn undergraduate management major at Roger Williams University was named the top presenter at last night’s statewide Elevator Pitch Contest, sponsored by the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, for his proposal to create an online greeting card service that enables recipients to interactively engage in a one-minute game with senders.

Willem Delventhal, of East Haddam, Conn. Delventhal, a senior who is minoring in web development and computer science, said the service, called Nuanotes, will offer a customizable video experience that slowly reveals the intended message as the recipient plays the game. Delventhal said he will work on the technology behind his idea during the upcoming winter break.

He and nine other presenters took home a total of $1,000 in cash prizes.

“Rhode Island is getting a well-deserved reputation as the start-up state, and the ideas showcased at last evening’s contest showed why,” said Competition Co-chair Anthony Mangiarelli, principal with the accounting firm of KLR. “The judges provided valuable guidance to presenters and onlookers alike by helping them understand what works when pitching to investors, partners, and even potential employees.”

The ninth annual Rhode Island Elevator Pitch Contest drew 26 presenters, including a newly elected representative to the Rhode Island General Assembly, as well as about 80 others who watched and listened, and was hosted at the facilities of startup accelerator Betaspring.

Each presenter had 90 seconds to present his or her idea to a panel of eight judges, who then gave verbal feedback about the clarity and persuasiveness of the pitch.

The other winning presenters were as follows:

  • Charles Chase, of Greene, who pitched RI Hydroponic Lettuce, which he wants to introduce to complement his locally produced maple syrup business.
  • Melissa Desrochers, of Rumford, for Pick-Ease, an eating utensil for children who are considered to be picky eaters.
  • Vyoma Gandhi, a Brown University student, who pitched Plasmonics, who pitched a device to diagnosing the early onset of certain types of cancer.
  • Alyssa Garrett and Gareth Rose, both Brown University students, for RoadMap, an online marketplace that helps high school students find the right college to apply to.
  • Daniel Giovacchini, a Brown University student, who pitched TrustFall, a fall-detection belt designed for elderly people that automatically notify loved ones when the user has fallen.
  • Alter Jackson, a Brown University student, who pitched Z-Zoom, a technology that will inform automotive dealerships about the status of the cars on their lots.
  • Michael Markarian, of Providence, for Mount Dream, a service that helps people decide if their business idea is worth pursuing.
  • Dena Paolino, of North Attleboro, Mass., who pitched Striking Beauties Boxing Gym for Women, which makes boxing gloves for women.
  • Meghan Pike and Tiffany Harrison Givens, of Newport, for HARRISON+PIKE, a company that aims to bolster manufacturing in Rhode Island with nautically inspired jewelry and accessories.


Judging the contest were:

  • Blaine Carroll, vice president of strategic initiatives, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Providence
  • Jim Grace, president and CEO,, Warwick
  • Daniel Murphy, principal, Hatch Entrepreneurial Center, Providence
  • Kelly Ramirez, CEO, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, Providence
  • Jennifer Schwall, executive director, Cherrystone Angel Group, Providence


Sponsors of the 2015 Competition

Lead sponsors of the 2015 Competition are Cumulus Media-Providence, Edwards Wildman, Embolden, Focus Vision Media, Hinckley Allen, KLR, and the Providence Journal Charitable Fund.

Also supporting the Competition are Bank of America, Brown University, Bryant University, Center for Women and Enterprise, Envision Technology Advisors, FM Global, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Hatch Entrepreneurial Center, Johnson & Wales University, Providence Business News, Roger Williams University, Slater Technology Fund, University of Rhode Island, and Utilidata.

Additional supporters include Bank Rhode Island, Business Development Company, Care New England, Centreville Bank, Cherrystone Angel Group, Citizens Bank, Deepwater Wind, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Dimeo Construction Company, Gencorp Insurance Group, GTECH, The Moore Company, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Navigant Credit Union, Nortek, Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, Santander Bank, Teknor Apex, The Washington Trust Company, and Ximedica.

Additional support is provided by AAA Southern New England, Bank Newport, Betaspring, Biomedical Structures, Community College of Rhode Island, CVS Health, Freedom National Bank, Hayes & Sherry Real Estate Services,, Rhode Island College, Starkweather & Shepley, and Tech Collective.

About the Competition

Established in 2000, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition has been recognized as one of the top 40 business plan competitions in the country. To date, it has awarded more than $1.6 million in prizes to competitors developing companies across many industries.

In addition to awarding prizes, the Competition hosts educational events in the months leading up to the application deadline. They include business development, financial planning, and presentation skills workshops. In addition, the competition hosts the annual Rhode Island Elevator Pitch Contest. Complete information, including rules, application procedures, guidelines, and business plan resources, is available at

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