Facing a competitive pool, seven students have been selected as semi-finalists in the Colleges’ third installment of The Pitch, an entrepreneurial leadership contest for students organized by the Centennial Center for Leadership (CCL).
“The Pitch is our way of engaging students with thinking critically about their ideas and providing a pathway for them to work on bringing those plans to a reality,” says CCL Director Susan Pliner. “What we are able to offer through The Pitch and the ways that students are responding have grown significantly.”
Pliner says that The Pitch offers a way for contestants to learn specifically about innovation as they discover what it takes to become an entrepreneurial leader. One winner will receive a $10,000 grant, which will serve as important seed funding to further their idea.
Over the next two months, The Pitch semi-finalists will work with alumni and alumnae mentors who will help them revise and strengthen their initial proposals. With ideas ranging from an educational gaming program, an online management system, a date rape drug safety device to a financial mobile app, each semi-finalists must resubmit their proposal to a selection committee comprised of faculty, staff and alums by January 27th. They will have the opportunity to “pitch” their ideas one last time before finalists are selected.
The Pitch semi-finalists and their proposals are as follows:
Ato Bentsi-Enchill ’17 – “RevisionPrep,” an educational tool that combines exam preparation with simple online gaming programs aimed at Ghanaian junior high students.
Morgan Bungerz ’15 – “CV Wraps,” a device that allows athletes to work out faster, more comfortably, and safely.
John Darby ’14 – “Guest Critique,” a learning management online system that allows students to submit their art and design work in order to receive constructive feedback from professors, peers and professional critics.
Abbey Foote ’17 – “Safety Stick,” a simple key chain with a usable applicator device that changes color in the presence of common date-rape drugs.
Dennis O’Connell ’16 – “Smooth Seas,” high quality, American-made, nautically themed merchandise, which is influenced by sea experiences.
Nicole Pastor ’16 – “Generation Y,” a multi-faceted, mobile application that aggregates financial and lifestyle information for money-minded young adults.
Chuck Seergy ’14 – “Campus Board,” an off-campus housing service run by students, for students, with a goal of accommodating students who are living off campus.
New to this year’s contest, all semi-finalists have been invited to participate in an Innovation Institute that will be organized by the CCL and held on campus. During the week-long program, the students will have the chance to immerse themselves in developing their plans, through collaborative lab experiences and individual sessions with faculty, staff and alums.
Four out of the seven semi-finalists also participated in the IdeaLab, a six-week incubator program to help accelerate student ideas. Bentsi-Enchill, Bungerz, O’Connell and Foote will be receiving $1,000 thanks to the Lieblein ’90 Challenge, which provided students with additional seed funding if their IdeaLab proposal also made it to the semi-final round of The Pitch.
Pliner says that with the IdeaLab really served as a launching pad for many ideas, the quality of The Pitch proposals has increased significantly as students are more prepared to tackle the components of entrepreneurial leadership within their strategic planning. Powered by the IdeaLab, The Pitch contest received 18 proposals this year.
There has also been more first-year participants interested in both the IdeaLab and The Pitch.
“It’s exciting for HWS to have an entrepreneurial leadership program that engages students by helping them actualize their ideas and understand their responsibilities and role in bringing those ideas to light,” Pliner says.
Assistant Director of the Centennial Center for Leadership Amy Forbes says that both opportunities have shown that students are also applying what they are learning in the classroom to their entrepreneurial ideas.
“Over and over again, we’re seeing that the IdeaLab and The Pitch are providing a place for students to apply their academic interests,” Forbes says. “We have really thoughtful students using their liberal arts training. We’re fortunate to be in this environment as many are more than poised to become entrepreneurial leaders.”
The Pitch finals will be held at HWS on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.