TRAVERSE CITY — The dogs had their day earlier this year.

Now its time for the Spartans to take center stage.

For the second time since going virtual, TCNewTech’s monthly Pitch Night will be comprised of presenters with direct ties to a college or university. The Michigan Tech University Huskies did a friendly takeover in August. Michigan State University will do the same on Oct. 6.

TCNewTech’s Pitch Night — held the first Tuesday of each month — begins at 6 p.m.

Michigan Tech’s takeover of TCNewTech was the first for the Upper Peninsula school. MSU will be taking the lead at Pitch Night for the third or fourth time, according to Aaryn Richard, communications manager for the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at MSU.

“I’m excited,” Richard said. “We have a real close relationship with TCNewTech. We were there last summer and doing a virtual event this fall is a lively change of pace.”

Jennifer Szunko, executive director of TCNewTech, said the Michigan Tech takeover was a success and she expects the same from MSU because the schools have a similar approach.

“I was really impressed with the innovations that can came out of Michigan Tech and the level of professionalism,” Szunko said. “And the professionalism of the audience, both on the investor side and the audience who were there just to learn about new technologies.

“Both schools have strong entrepreneurship programs featuring innovations and new technology. It’s amazing these students are able to create and launch these ideas while they’re still in school.”

The Michigan Tech pitch presentations were divided between undergrads, graduate students and faculty. The five MSU presentations on Tuesday are all undergraduate students at MSU.

Szunko said it gives an added dimension to the Oct. 6 event.

“They’ve all come up with ideas that are filling a need that they recognize,” Szunko said. “They are solving a problem that they encountered at school. They all have a wide target audience that they are right in the middle of.”

Richard said participating in pitch competitions like TCNewTech gives the budding entrepreneurs “real world experiences” MSU likes to emphasize. Richard said the students also gain a measure of confidence in their start-ups, not to mention making pitches to “an audience different than their comfort zone.”

These kind of experiences are tremendously valuable, he added.

“The real world opportunity to interact with a community of potential investors and potential future customers and to have those conversations, those are priceless,” Richard said.

Any kind of feedback the students receive also “helps you to target your potential customer, tailor your message” and apply it immediately.

Five start-ups will make pitches at the virtual Pitch Night. There’s a $500 top prize, sponsored by the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at MSU.

It’s just as much about getting noticed and attracting potential investment — all before earning a diploma.

Szunko said the five presentations from MSU students include:

  • Catch Software, LLC (www. According to its website, Catch’s mission is to “bring people together by converting a virtual space into real connections in real time.” The website further says it can “improve the social experience by catalyzing better first impressions through converting online connections into real-life ones.”
  • Chalk Talk is a microblogging app for individual classrooms. According to its Facebook page, Chalk Talk can improve communication, provide easier collaboration and improve teamwork. The website states that Chalk Talk “works like a social media app, fostering fast, constant communication between students.”
  • Auxin Games ( According to a summary, “Auxin Games develops engaging, fun, and educational video games to high school students to combat the major switch to online learning, as well as the difficulty of teachers accessing free, quality, and up-to-date educational resources.”
  • MEdMentor is an online platform “that facilitates interaction between pre-medical students and medical students in a one-on-one chatroom format.” It further claims it “makes it possible for undergraduate students that are interested in medicine to get the very best information in just a few clicks.”
  • SKOOP builds an array of digital tools “to reinvent the way humans interact and engage with digital billboards in a nonintrusive way.” According to its website, its mission is a “way to easily monetize your digital signing.”

The Oct. 6 event is the seventh TCNewTech Virtual Pitch Night.

Each company will have five minutes to pitch an emerging business to an online audience of investors, other technology professionals, fellow entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. There’s a five-minute question-and-answer period.

Audience members select the winner via text message.

The TCNewTech Virtual Pitch Night is broadcast live from 20Fathoms to TCNewTech’s YouTube channel and Facebook page simultaneously. Those registering at Eventbrite will receive reminders and/or more details on the event.

Similar to the in-person event, there will be public announcements at the Virtual Pitch Night. Announcements need to be submitted via chat on YouTube and Facebook.

Following Virtual Pitch Night, Szunko said she will host a “distanced social gathering” at Thirsty Fish Sports Grille, 221 E. State St.

“The real world opportunity to interact with a community of potential investors and potential future customers and to have those conversations, those are priceless.” Aaryn Richard, communications manager for the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at MSU