Lafayette Consulting Group pitch competition fuels innovation in students


Vladimir Barshchuk ’22 won the competition with his investment app FINCO. (Photo courtesy of Vladmir Barshchuck ’22)

By Bia Brait Amorosino, Staff Writer

What lies within the Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is the fostering of creativity and invention among campus groups, including the Lafayette Consulting Group (LCG).

In the spirit of the Dyer Center, LCG ran their first annual Idea Pitch Competition on Nov. 11, which featured startup pitches from student innovators. The competition was co-sponsored by the Dyer Center, the economics department and the engineering department.

Vladimir Barshchuk ’22 won the competition with his pitch of the FINCO app, software for investment clubs where users can create investment communities, discuss different stocks and give pointers on how to invest. He won a $100 Mojo gift card and 20 hours of LCG consulting services.

“I came up with the pitch a year ago when I was only working on this as an idea. While running a small investment club myself, I noticed that some things could be more organized and performed better. This became an inspiration to create FINCO,” Barshschuk wrote in an email. 

Other pitches included an app that streamlines the process for at-home barbering called Clipper and Kinetics, an investing program that puts together an investment strategy and portfolio for users, and an app that tracks greenhouse gas emissions and scans products for sustainability in terms of production and manufacturing.

LCG is a student-run organization that introduces students to the world of consulting. The club holds anything from networking events and guest speakers to small consulting projects around the Lehigh Valley.

LCG Co-Presidents Ryan Puri ’23 and John McParland ’23 reached out to Engineering Professor Scott Hummel, Dyer Center Director Yusuf Dahl and President Nicole Hurd to judge the competition. Participants were given 10 minutes to pitch their idea and five minutes to answer questions from the judges.

Dahl said that he thought the prize of 20 hours of free consulting support was particularly useful.

“Oftentimes, it’s not money that’s constraining you and kind of holding these ideas back. It’s effort, it’s time, it’s resources from a people perspective,” Dahl said.

Among the presenters, Angela Busheska ’25 stood out for her sustainability app. Not only was she the only first-year and female student in the competition, but Puri added that she was very enthusiastic about her project and was a strong presenter.

“She is only a freshman, but already made big steps in creating her product,” Barshchuck said.

McParland said that he thinks the competition promotes innovation at Lafayette by encouraging students to reach out to the Dyer Center and LCG to gain business expertise. Similarly, Dahl said that he wants the contest to inspire students to solve problems through innovation.

“It’s my hope that students are always looking at the world from an opportunity recognition lens. When they encounter problems, they are looking at those problems as opportunities to think differently, to do things better. As they look at the world and are frustrated by the pace of change or lack thereof, they’re thinking about how they can do things differently to create different outcomes,” Dahl said.

“This competition was a great opportunity for students to get valuable feedback on their ideas.” Barshchuck wrote. “And in my opinion, that is what matters the most.”