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Food startup wins $22K in Mayo Biz Competition

Tikka Team won first place in the Mayo Business Plan Competition, the first all-female team to take the top spot in the program’s four-year-long history. Photos by Dustin Fenstermacher
Tikka Team won first place in the Mayo Business Plan Competition, the first all-female team to take the top spot in the program’s four-year-long history. Photos by Dustin Fenstermacher

Until recently, all Mehak Aswani, Pauleena Pal, and Sheenal Parikh had to show for their future restaurant, Tikka Roll, was an Excel file full of projected sales figures and long list of needs, including a fridge, a sink, and a fryer.

But after winning first prize in the 2015 Mayo Business Plan Competition on April 8, the three seniors have $22,000 to put toward making the restaurant a reality.

Jamie LeRoy shows Mayo judges how the Thor motor attaches to any longboard.
Jamie LeRoy shows Mayo judges how the Thor motor attaches to any longboard.

Two other student groups—Thor Electric Longboards and ProjectSpotter—also competed in the finalist round that evening. The longboard team, made up of Jamie LeRoy, Ian Nolan, and Jenna Wilson, won second place, with a purse of $12,000. ProjectSpotter’s Jessica Gorham, Matthew Hellenbrecht, Patrick Kelly, and Eric Sawyer took home third place and $6,000.

ProjectSpotter’s Eric Sawyer and colleagues pitched a web platform to help student researchers across the globe find each other.
ProjectSpotter’s Eric Sawyer and colleagues pitched a web platform to help student researchers across the globe find each other.

“There are no losers here,” said School of Business Dean Bill Keep. “Everyone goes home with money, and six months of hard work for an experience they’ll never forget.”

That seems undeniable for Team Tikka Roll. What’s more is that their roll-out plans for the restaurant stand to directly benefit TCNJ students.

“We’re hoping to acquire space in CampusTown,” said Mehak Aswani, a finance and political science double major and the company’s chief operating officer. The restaurant plans to offer late-night hours and delivery by bike. “There’s not much Indian food closer than Hamilton and Princeton,” she said, during the group’s presentation on market competition.

For the uninitiated, a tikka roll is the union of paratha, a soft, circular flatbread, and a spicy meat or veggie filling. The women expect to charge about $5 per roll.

The five Mayo competition judges, four of whom are TCNJ alumni, had a “lively discussion, but coming to our decision was amicable,” said Stacy Mattia, a judge and senior vice president at JPMorgan Chase. The first-place winners “had an overwhelming sense of passion” for their business.

“Throughout the process, [Team Tikka] really had a strong use case plan [for the restaurant],” said judge Eric Szabo ’97, the chief risk officer for Annaly Management Company.

It didn’t hurt that the tikka rolls were delicious.

“I couldn’t stop eating them,” said Szabo, on this, his second sampling after the business plan semi-finals. “One of the other judges said she went home and was dreaming about it.”


 

Renée Olson, director of strategic communications

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