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The Road to the Iowa State Innovation Pitch: Meet the Winners

By Diana Wright, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

 

Lauren Gifford, a senior at Iowa State University studying marketing pitches her business, Flourish, at the Innovation Pitch at the Maintenance Shop on March 7, 2019. Lauren received $250 as a runner-up in the Ivy College of Business Pitch Off, and went on to win the $500 New Business Idea at the Innovation Pitch.

Lauren Gifford, a senior at Iowa State University studying marketing pitches her business, Flourish, at the Innovation Pitch at the Maintenance Shop on March 7, 2019. Lauren received $250 as a runner-up in the Ivy College of Business Pitch Off, and went on to win the $500 New Business Idea at the Innovation Pitch.

All throughout the month of February, students stirred up business ideas and crafted 90-second pitches to compete in pitch-offs held in all seven colleges at Iowa State University. The Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the second annual College-by-College Pitch Off, awarding 21 cash prizes totaling $7,000 to seed student business ideas.

Winners in each college received $500 for first place, and two runners-up received $250. The 21 college winners advanced to the campus-wide Innovation Pitch held March 7 at the Maintenance Shop. There they joined an additional 10 to 15 students on stage to compete for the best overall pitch for $1,000 and three $500 awards based on categories. Sponsors for the Innovation Pitch included local organizations and businesses: Renewable Energy Group ($1,000 — Best Overall Pitch), Workiva ($500 — New Innovation), Ames Economic Development Commission ($500 — New Business Idea), and Zirous ($500 — Social Venture).

Refining the pitch to define the business plan

Stand up in front of a crowd and talk about your business? This can be scary for any newcomer, let alone to clearly tell what you do in 90-seconds.

What do you do?

How do you do it?

Why will you be successful?

For many students, it may be the first time they are expressing their idea publicly. The pressure to deliver a 90-second elevator pitch leads to refining the plan for the business. Afterward, judges ask questions and provide valuable feedback. John Hall, judge and sponsor from the Ames Economic Development Commission, encouraged students to continue to share their ideas at the event.

“All of the businesses and business ideas presented were excellent, but all of you, winners included, could benefit from continuing to get out there and share your idea. It’s a great way to continue refining your idea, and for all of you, that confidence in your idea will grow which will help your business become more real and lead you to success as an entrepreneur.”

The road to more opportunities

Pitch competitions are one of many programs students at Iowa State can seek out. The Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship provides support and guidance year-round for students interested in entrepreneurship through a menu of events and programs, including the CYstarters summer accelerator.

Meet the 2019 Innovation Pitch Winners

Pictured L to R: Corinne Schwarting, Matt Krueger (Zirous), Anthony Swindell, John Hall (AEDC), Lauren Gifford, Alex Kharbush (Workiva), Konner Koerselman, Nick Schmit, Brian Fleming, Bradley Lechton, Carl Harris (Renewable Energy Group)

Best Overall Pitch

Serona Craft Butter, presented by Konner Koerselman (junior), Brian Fleming (senior) and Brad Lechton (senior), all studying industrial engineering

New Innovation

Safety Slide Pocket Gate, presented by Nick Schmit, third year veterinary medicine student

New Business Idea

Flourish, presented by Lauren Gifford, senior studying marketing

Social Venture

Chess Utopia, presented by Anthony Swindell, senior studying entrepreneurship

Audience Choice

In Your Corner Boxing Academy, presented by Corrine Schwarting, senior studying psychology

Meet the College-By-College Winners

Pictured L to R: Tristen Meinders, Joanna Gramer, Jacob Wallace, Sky Irlmeier, Hallie Farrell

College of Human Sciences

First Place: My Agent, presented by Tristen Meinders and Joanna Gramer, both seniors studying event management

Runners-up: Cover mobile app, presented by Hallie Farrell, senior studying event management; The Spectrum Night Club, presented by Sky Irlmeier, senior studying event management, and Jacob Wallace, a junior studying hospitality management

Pictured L to R: Nick Schmit, Joel Steckelberg, Kelsey Deaver

College of Veterinary Medicine

First Place: Heritage Farm Coop, presented by Joel Steckelberg, fourth year veterinary medicine student

Runners-up: Safety Slide Pocket Gate, presented by Nick Schmit, third year veterinary medicine student; Rage Room, presented by Kelsey Deaver, second year veterinary medicine student

Front row (L to R): Jim Fay (judge), Nick Muehlbauer, Patrick O’Donnell (judge), Dave Sly (judge), Brian Fleming, Konner Koerselman Back row (l to r): Taylor Goodness, Guy Barbier (judge), Evan Timmons, Bradley Lechton

College of Engineering

First Place: Serona Craft Beer, presented by Konner Koerselman (junior), Brian Fleming (senior) and Brad Lechton (senior), all studying industrial engineering

Runners-up: TaVS, presented by Evan Timmons, senior studying computer engineering; CRAFT Growler Beer Dispenser, presented by Taylor Goodness and Nick Muelbauer, both seniors studying mechanical engineering

Pictured L to R: Dillon Jensen, Corrine Schwarting, Cameron Stocker

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

First Place: Jensen Applied Sciences, presented by Dillon Jensen, sophomore studying computer science

Runners-up: Yabble, presented by Cameron Stocker, senior studying statistics; In Your Corner Boxing Academy, presented by Corrinne Schwarting, senior studying psychology

Pictured L to R: Lauren Gifford, Grant Keast, Riley Fabian

Ivy College of Business

First Place: Novuix, presented by Riley Fabian, senior studying finance

Runners-up: Flourish, presented by Lauren Gifford, senior studying marketing; Pink Panda, presented by Grant Keast, senior studying management

Pictured L to R: Kyrstin Myhers, Abigail Luchsinger, Miguel Izard, Mark Ramirez

Pictured L to R: Kyrstin Myhers, Abigail Luchsinger, Miguel Izard, Mark Ramirez

College of Design

First Place: Retro Brick, presented by Miguel Izard and Mark Ramirez, both seniors studying architecture

Runners-up: Acoustic Paintbrush Productions, presented by Abigail Luchsinger, senior studying interdisciplinary design; Powdu, presented by Kyrstin Myhers, senior studying interdisciplinary design

Pictured L to R: Taylor Tuel, Alex Irlbeck, Mindy Cook, Todd Van Dyke

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

First Place: CattleTech, presented by Alex Irlbeck and Taylor Tuel, both graduate students studying agricultural & biosystems engineering

Runners-up: Herd Connect, presented by Mindy Cook, senior studying agricultural business; Bar Guru, presented by Todd Van Dyke, senior studying agricultural systems technology