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Senior Wins Flyer Pitch Grand Prize for Handy Hats

University of Dayton senior Danielle Ruffolo won the $25,000 grand prize for her patented Handy Hats in the University of Dayton’s Flyer Pitch competition, one of the largest business plan contests in the nation at the collegiate level.

Handy Hats are caps with a discrete interior pouch that conceals items such as credit cards or cash. Ruffolo created the business as a sophomore at the university while enrolled in a micro-business/entrepreneurship course and has since generated $60,000 in sales.

See a video about Handy Hats here.

Ruffolo, a Dayton native majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship, took first place among 200 teams that pitched ideas in China and the United States. She will also receive $25,000 in support from The Entrepreneurs Center through Ohio’s Entrepreneurial Services Provider program.

“Ruffolo took a promising idea and turned it into a successful business — all before she has even graduated. She patented her Handy Hat last year, sold more than 5,000 hats in the last 18 months, is already in six retail locations and recently pitched in an open call for CNBC’s Shark Tank,” said Vincent Lewis, director of the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Ruffolo's win caps another highly competitive year for Flyer Pitch. Along with the five other finalists, the competition saw six patented products, one start-up with more than $1.8 million in angel investments, and three teams that have already generated nearly $160,000 in sales.

"These entrepreneurs have the opportunity to generate real economic and societal impact. It’s easy to be inspired by their passion and commitment to persevering through the start-up process to move their businesses forward,” Lewis said.

Now in its 13th year, Flyer Pitch awards more than $100,000 in cash prizes and $150,000 of in-kind prizes during five events in Dayton. Its legacy includes more than 35 new ventures that have been launched as a result of the competition with $17.1 million in capital raised by those businesses.

More information on Handy Hats is available online or on Instagram.


News and Communications Staff