Stony Brook student entrepreneurs gathered in the Charles B. Wang Center last month to put their best business ideas before a panel of industry judges in the university’s eighth WolfieTank competition.
Modeled after the popular TV show Shark Tank, the event offered students a valuable opportunity to square off against fellow entrepreneurs and pitch their ideas and vision to the judges, who in turn provided feedback and advice.
Five teams took part this year, and when the dust settled, the last Seawolf standing was MBA student Evan Gauer, who along with partner Jordan Rothstein ’21, applied mathematics, pitched Markata, a platform designed to identify and capitalize on Internet trends. Gauer said the inspiration for this idea came from personal experience working in the social media industry.
“I noticed a significant gap in the market for tools that could help creators build sustainable revenue streams from their platforms,” said Gauer, who’s pursuing an MBA in marketing in the College of Business. “Markata provides a suite of analytics, management, and monetization tools to help social media creators build and grow their brands.”
Gauer said it’s “full speed ahead” for Markata, and has already built a fully functional mobile application that will soon be available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
“We’ve also generated a lot of interest from potential investors and we plan to use this momentum to secure funding and scale our business even further,” he said.
“Evan’s presentation was crisp, clear and concise, allowing all who attended the event to see the potential this product offers in the current market,” said event moderator David Ecker, trainer/innovator in the Division of Information Technology. “Markata has the potential to change how influencers develop their brands and reach their audience. I am excited to see this business take off.”
Second-place winners were Mayur Talele ‘26, a freshman biochemistry major, and co-presenter Justin Leung ‘26, a freshman biology major, who created a marketplace called Compedite where tutors and students can connect to assist students in high school competitions.
“The inspiration for this idea was the fact that college admissions is becoming increasingly competitive, and one of the best ways to stand out in the college admissions process is to win competitions,” said Talele. “To address that, we created a platform that helps students who want to succeed in high school competitions by providing them with a host of tutors who can guide them to success.”
Alumni judges included Derek Peterson, CEO and founder of Soter Technologies; Bob Williams, president of IV Matters Inc.; and Laura Klahre, CEO and founder of Blossom Meadow Farm. The event emcee was Ivy Ma ’24, a junior business management/psychology double major.
For Gauer, who aspires to one day build his own successful company, winning WolfieTank was an “incredible feeling.”
“We spent weeks preparing our pitch and perfecting our business plan,” he said. “The feedback we received from the judges and the audience was invaluable, and we were able to come away with several mentors and resources to help us advance our business.”
Talele echoed a similar sentiment.
“In preparing for the competition, I started to think far more analytically and profoundly about our platform, allowing me to ideate new growth strategies,” he said. “During the preparation, Justin and I spent countless hours working on the pitch deck, ensuring that we sold our vision as well as possible. Finally, the competition gave us a unique opportunity to communicate our idea to many people in a high-stakes event, and we worked to make the most of it.”
“WolfieTank is the premier pitch competition for Stony Brook students to pitch innovative business ideas,” said Ecker. “This event, our eighth, demonstrates our commitment to encouraging students to build the dreams of the future right here on campus. It also encourages the entrepreneurial spirit and professional networking.”
— Robert Emproto