Last year, the Centennial Center for Leadership (CCL) started a new campus tradition: “The Pitch.” A competition open to students interested in becoming entrepreneurs, “The Pitch” grants the winner a monetary award of $10,000 to bring a one-of-a-kind idea to life. Currently in its initial phases, “The Pitch” has returned for another year of competition and entrepreneurial endeavor.
“Entrepreneurs are drivers of innovation. Leaders work with others towards shared goals or common visions that benefit a community. By combining the two concepts, and embedding them into the contest, the Centennial Center for Leadership hopes to encourage innovation that adds value,” says Amy Forbes, associate director of the Centennial Center for Leadership. “We want to develop the potential of student leaders who are passionate about creating products, services or organizations that improve, transform or change the way we interact with the world.”
Participants have the opportunity to become entrepreneurial leaders on campus, and impact their broader environment through their vision. Students are supported throughout the process by mentors on campus and from all sectors of the entrepreneurial world. Paired by CCL, mentors act as experienced guides as students revise proposals to create the best possible product or service.
The application review process is thorough – spanning from late September to early March-and full of competitive edge. “The core tenets of the liberal arts and entrepreneurial leadership are really shared,” explains Forbes. “The contest is simply a challenge – it’s rigorous, as it has multiple stages – that draws out what our students have been trained in by asking them to design and implement in real world application. It’s really an exciting display of liberal arts ingenuity.”
Interested students recently attended an introductory meeting, and were encouraged to begin developing and drafting proposals as soon as possible. Before submitting official copies of their proposals, students can attend workshops offered through CCL on Friday, Nov. 9.
“The Pitch” has the potential to change not only the HWS campus community, but also the community at large. With the help of “The Pitch,” last year’s winner, Sara Wroblewski ’13, created One Bead – and helped students at Oloosirkon Government Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya, receive school supplies and support for programs to form a better education environment.
“I could probably write a book about how everything happens for a reason and my life has changed so much over the past nine months,” says Wroblewski, who was just named director and chief executive officer of One Bead, the newly registered non-profit that came as a result of her efforts.
After being granted the scholarship, Wroblewski used the grant to cover large expenses, the cost of production and the expansion of her inventory. Wroblewski’s Pitch experience provided benefits beyond her imagination. “I learned how to take criticism, multitask, talk in front of others and come up with answers on my feet, in front of people,” she explains. “One Bead is a full time job, and going through the process of the Pitch made me understand what that means and allowed me to accept and take on that responsibility.”
To learn more about The Pitch and how innovative ideas can come to fruition, contact Forbes and the Centennial Center for Leadership. Applications and contest rules can be found at http://www.hws.edu/academics/leadership/eweek.aspx.