New Venture Competition awards psychology major $30K for women’s safety app

New Venture Competition awards psychology major $30K for women’s safety app


Siena Rampulla believes that women should feel safe anywhere – from a walk to their car after classes, to a mall parking lot, to the comfort of their own home – so she’s building an app for that.

Leading a small team of Rowan University students, the senior psychology major created PULLATracker, a phone app that, once activated, would alert authorities and emergency contacts from a user’s phone with information about a perceived threat and the user’s location.

Judges in Rowan’s annual Rohrer New Venture Competition considered the idea so good that they awarded Rampulla the contest’s top prize April 21 – $30,000.

One of five finalists to compete in this year’s competition, Rampulla’s pitch to judges focused on threats women can experience anytime, anywhere, and the need for an app that can summon help fast.

“We need to make PULLATracker happen now,” she urged them.

Judge Joseph Cosgrove, an RCB graduate who serves as president and CEO of Leiters, a Meridian, Colo., pharmaceutical company, said based on what he’d heard, the app makes sense.

“I see it as a deterrent… hats off to that,” Cosgrove said.

Moments after winning, Rampulla said she expects the app and an accompanying website to be finished in August.

“It’s 80 percent complete,” she said. “We’ll use this funding to make the app and website ADA compliant.”

Culled from 26 startups in this year’s New Venture Competition, the five finalists included Nick Nastasi and Josh Perry for their business 4U Medical Designs; Shaila Saini, for Lushious Beauty, a sustainable, boutique makeup brand; Ashley Kulikowski, for Art for Hope Studio; and Harrison Nastasi and Justin Iannelli for Bobica Bars, a line of superfood granola bars.

Funded through the Rowan University Foundation’s Rowan Innovation Venture Fund (RIVF), the top prize for this year’s competition increased nearly eight-fold, from $4,000 in 2022.

“This is an opportunity for us to support our university ecosystem,” said RIVF chair and treasurer of the Rowan University Foundation Michael Connallon, Jr.

The $30,000 grand prize, he said, is seed money to help the winner get started.

“It’s intended to help students build and scale up their business but it’s not the end of the road (in terms of needed funding),” he said.

The daylong program in Business Hall included a New Business Expo with dozens of aspiring student teams and a judged art exhibition that emphasized the growing interconnectedness of programs on campus, especially the crossover between the RCB and the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts.

“It’s the biggest, most diverse group of entries we’ve ever had,” said Dr. Eric Liguori, founding Head of the School of Innovation & Entrepreneurship within the RCB.

Liguori said 51 student teams competed in the New Business Expo for up to $4,000 in prize money and there were 114 pieces of student art on display showcasing the growing overlap between the RCB and the Edelman CCCA. Guests voted for their favorite works in the stARTup Gallery and winners received prizes for 1st place, 2nd place and 3rd place entries.


Full list of winners:

New Venture Expo

  • First Place ($4,000) - Art For Hope Studio
  • People's Choice - 4U Medical Designs
  • Most Promising New Venture: Social - Circlez
  • Most Promising New Venture: Cannabis Commercialization - THC Go
  • Most Promising New Venture: CPG - Bobica Bars
  • Most Promising New Venture: Service - EvoEats
  • Most Promising New Venture: Technology - Print Fit
  • Honorable Mention - Tax Space
  • Honorable Mention - Baron Rides

stARTup Gallery

  • First Place - Tyler Allen-Williams
  • Second Place - Nick Rochino
  • Third Place - Emerson Harman

Rohrer New Venture Competition 

  • First Place - PULLATracker
  • Second Place - 4U Medical Designs
  • Third Place - Bobica Bars
  • Honorable Mention - Art For Hope Studio
  • Honorable Mention - Lushious Beauty