Students pitch new businesses and plans at competition

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Student-led teams from SVSU and Michigan State University competed in the Elevator Pitch Competition hosted by the Dow Entrepreneurship Institute of the Scott L. Carmona College of Business and Management on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

The event, designed for independent ventures in the early stages of development, required students to pitch a business idea to a panel of three judges for a chance to network and the hopes of winning the cash prize to be used toward their business.

David Bell, the associate director of the Dow Entrepreneurship Institute, values the practical learning implications of events such as this.

“When I’ve gone into the classrooms and talked about the leadership and problem-solving skills that students learn from building their own business concept, these are also skills that make them more valuable to employers even if they don’t start their own business,” Bell said.

Eight student groups “pitched” in the competition: AgileCare Solutions, White Hart Coffee, BRITE Bites, Whirl Wind Straws, Fylm TV, Blade’s Trade LLC, Trinhydral and Classii. The goals of these different business proposals included coffee distribution, independent film streaming, eco-friendly straws and mobile apps for college students.

There were extensive guidelines competitors followed for the competition. Each presentation had to be 120 seconds in length or less, slides and props were not allowed and the company or idea being presented had to be majority-owned by the students.

Kristi Kozubal, the regional director of the Michigan Small Business Development Seminar, who helped judge the competition, explained how concise the students needed to be in their time frame.

“Preparation is key in these two-minute ones; students have to have their pitch down to the word,” Kozubal said.

Electrical engineering junior Brandon Addis received third place for his business Trinhydral proposal. His company’s goal is to create mobile water purification devices. Kinesiology junior Brianna Makaric received second place for her business BRITE Bites, a probiotic snack company. Dual finance and psychology senior Bailey Paxton received first place for his daily task and wellness checker business AgileCare Solutions. All three students attend MSU.

“I had a personal experience with nutrient deficiency growing up,” Makaric said. “I practice (pitching my business) 10 times a day and check it off on sticky notes.”

Stephen Hahn, the final judge of the competition and a chemistry, materials and technology scout, described the importance of preparedness when trying to get a business off the ground.

“How can you grab someone’s attention? Something that makes (potential investors) sit back and think ‘wow,’” Hahn said. “You need energy and to be dynamic.”

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