Jules Seay ’24 Wins Fall Student Pitch Competition Seay's business, GOES, involves using specialized greenhouses as a form of carbon capture technology.
“I’ve been working on GOES for almost two and a half years now, so it was reassuring to have people see the vision that I see in GOES and in my business.”
~ Jules Seay ’24
From specialized greenhouses to family-oriented long-term care, Washington and Lee University students brought their best business ideas to the Fall 2021 Student Pitch Competition over Young Alumni Weekend. In this competition, selected students had five minutes to pitch their business ideas for a chance to win first, second and third place. This event, hosted by the Connolly Entrepreneurship Society (CES), received 15 entries. Ultimately, the CES team selected nine businesses to pitch.
Jules Seay ’24 won first place presenting her business, Global Ozone Environmental System (GOES), which seeks to decrease carbon dioxide emissions.
GOES proposes combining photosynthesis and industrialization, building specialized greenhouses as a form of carbon capture technology. Businesses can purchase GOES greenhouses and equip them for factories emitting carbon dioxide.
“The idea came from a science fair project I did in my sophomore year of high school,” said Seay.
“I had read this book called ‘Physics for Future Presidents,’ and one of the sections talked about how even recycling contributes carbon dioxide to global warming. After reading that, I felt that society wasn’t truly addressing problems the way we need to if even our environmental solutions are causing problems. To kill two birds with one stone, I figured why not use biology to solve a biological problem. Since photosynthesis is a natural way of turning carbon dioxide into oxygen, it would produce more oxygen while stopping the flow of carbon dioxide emissions. Even though I didn’t make it past the second round of the science fair, I still continued to work on it of my own accord.”
The application process was a competitive one with limited spots, because of the event’s time constraints. “While the event may be called a ‘pitch competition,’ we expected a greater depth of idea development than an ‘elevator pitch,’” said Whit Rudder ’22, chief executive officer of CES.
“We were looking for candidates who had comprehensively thought through the business from head to toe. We especially liked applicants that were pitching a business with actual traction meaning they had already gotten funding, were filing for a patent, or any other pivotal step in transforming a concept into a real business.”
Before the event, students received assistance from CES members and Professor Marc Junkunc in preparing their pitches. CES hosted incubation sessions where each team shared their initial ideas before critiquing each other. Closer to the event, CES hosted a session similar to a dress rehearsal, where Junkunc was able to provide valuable insight to students fine-tuning their presentations.
“[Professor Junkunc] helped me be more visual with my business rather than trying to be like a biology professor giving an in-depth lecture on the carbon cycle,” said Seay. “His critiques made such a difference with my slide decks and my overall presentation.”
Seay is currently pursuing a patent for her idea and networking with other businesses while in a research phase. She believes the Student Pitch Competition was a great way to kick off the process.
“I think I gained confidence in presenting my business,” said Seay. “For instance, I had to pitch my idea to a patent lawyer to forward my provisional patent application, and he understood my idea completely. Now I feel way more confident in my presentation skills, and even in my idea. I’ve been working on GOES for almost two and a half years now, so it was reassuring to have people see the vision that I see in GOES and in my business.”
The judges evaluated the students’ pitches on viability, speech, presentation qualit, and creativity.
Selihom Gobeze ’23 won second place, while Fekry Mostafa ’25 and Mohamed Elhussiny ’24 won third as a team.
The next Student Pitch Competition will occur at the 10th Annual W&L Entrepreneurship Summit, which will be held on April 29-30, 2022.
If you know a W&L student who has done great, accolade-worthy things, tell us about them! Nominate them for an accolade.
Jules Seay ’24, GOES
Global Ozone Environmental System (GOES) builds specialized greenhouses, combining photosynthesis with industrialization, to reduce factories’ carbon dioxide emissions. Businesses can purchase GOES greenhouses they can equip for factories emitting carbon dioxide. The greenhouses are completely customizable and can potentially add new revenue streams for companies that fit their greenhouses to the buildings emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Selihom Gobeze ’23, FindAFH
FindAFH is an online platform that helps families find adult family homes for their elderly loved ones. An adult family home (a.k.a senior care home) is a more intimate, family-oriented form of long-term care compared to larger, more institutional, care facilities. Think of it as assisted living but in a house. With support from the AARP, they are becoming a more popular option for seniors who can’t age at home because their client-to-caregiver ratio is several times lower than that of nursing homes or large assisted living facilities (6:1 to 18:1) which allows for more personalized care. Secondly, they charge a cheaper monthly fee as they are mostly mom-and-pop run. Lastly, they are a more COVID-friendly form of senior care.
Mohamed Elhussiny ’24 and Fekry Mostafa ’25, PrivaSee
By conducting over 40 in-depth interviews, the PrivaSee team found out that 97% of people skip privacy policies. Since they believe in a transparent internet where users can make informed decisions, they found a way to condense these privacy policies for easier understanding! Using text-identification algorithms and AI, PrivaSee is a browser add-on that helps highlight the most important pieces of text so they don’t get lost in the fine print. They have over 200 explicit declarations of intent to install the add-on, as well as agreements with privacy-related Reddit page moderators. The startup has also won first place in MIT’s LaunchX Entrepreneurship program and has been funded with 25k USD.