The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) is the premier entrepreneurship network with chapters on university campuses across North America. The organization holds a national conference each year that hosts several competitions. These competitions and the conference help college entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life and to network with over 1,600 other students, faculty, and entrepreneurs.
According to Jennifer Wright from California State University, Fresno who helped organize the event, there were 60 students who competed this year in the National Elevator Pitch Competition hosted by CEO. They competed in 4 rounds of 15 students and from each round 3 competitors were selected to advance to the final rounds. The 2010 National Elevator Pitch Competition awarded 3 winners and 4 honorable mentions. The 1st place winner received $2,500, 2nd place received $2,000 and 3rd place received $1,500. The four honorable mentions each received $500.
First Place: Alexandra McCoy, St. Mary’s University, It’s a Snap! Convertible Heels
Alexandra McCoy and her father designed a high heeled shoe that has interchangeable/detachable heel shafts. This design allows one pair of heels to become comfortable flats when walking or standing for long periods of time. McCoy is currently working on finalizing the design and acquiring a patent to protect her business idea. McCoy pursued this idea because it was related to one of her deepest passions, shoes!
McCoy said that the business was originally a school project that is now blossoming into an actual business. She felt that the passion behind her idea is what drove her to success during the CEO elevator pitch competition. When asked to give advice to others who were interested in bringing their idea to the elevator pitch competition, Mccoy had this to say; I would tell them that they need to make sure that they have passion behind their business idea. If the idea is mediocre, the passion behind it will be mediocre as well, making the elevator pitch unsuccessful.
Second Place: Justin Mares, University of Pittsburgh, RoommateFit
Justin Mares was inspired by his professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh and decided to enter the 2010 National Elevator Pitch Competition with his company RoomateFit. RoommateFit creates compatible roommate pairings based on personality traits, much like an eHarmony for roommates.
RoommateFit is in its first year of operation but has gained the attention of a local Angel investment group that Mares will be presenting in front of in the near future. Mares has incorporated his business and worked on further developing the technology behind RommateFit since the completion of the competition in November.
Justin credits his practicing to his success in the competition, “I practiced 25 times the night before the pitch, 15 times the day of, and 20 times more before the final round, and listened to my pitch on my iPod before falling asleep and on the plane ride to Chicago. It made all the difference.”
Third Place: Cassie Meyer, Bradley University, Knotty Outdoors
Cassie Meyer from Bradley University also pursued her business idea in something that she is passionate about, outdoors apparel for women. Knotty Outdoors will aim to provide “a modern alternative for women’s hunting apparel and accessories. Our focus is on high quality, perfect fit, stylish clothing that can also be worn casually”, said Meyer.
After the November competition, Meyer has been working on partnership agreements, finding quality wholesalers, and setting up tax information. Meyer was rewarded a prize of $1,500 to help grow her business that serves an often overlooked market in women who are involved in hunting and other outdoors activities. The funds will initially be used for website development and purchasing products.
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