Scraps, a mobile application that allows users to generate a list of recipes based on the food items they have on hand, won the top prize and $1,000 at The Big Pitch, a semester-end competition showcasing business plans developed by students in ENTR 485: Innovating: Creating the Future. PickUp Game, an app that quickly and efficiently connects people of similar sports skill sets, won second place and $500.
“The winning team identified a very large market,” said Adjunct Lecturer Jan Konstanty, who served as a judge. “They identified a significant major partner to their venture, which also helped their case. They’re driving people to change their habits, but also they would accumulate very valuable data on their clients.”
Around 250 people attended the event, and were invited to cast their votes for the audience choice award. Bamboozed, a mobile app that allows bar goers to conveniently split and pay tabs, took home the $500 audience choice award.
Each semester, students in ENTR 485 Innovating: Creating the Future - the entrepreneurship capstone course required for undergraduates in the Eller College of Management - team up to build a venture. Around nine sections of the course are taught each semester, each with about 50 students. At the end of each semester, student teams pitch their ideas in class, and the top team from each section is invited to compete in The Big Pitch. The capstone course ensures that business majors graduate with marketable skills in entrepreneurship and innovation that attract employers.
"We learned how to execute a plan all the way through,” said Alec Wilson (Marketing ’18) from the winning team, Scraps. “Regardless of the idea, it’s the execution that matters.”
Both the First Place and the Audience Choice winners were students in sections taught by McGuire Center Lecturer Rick Yngve.
“For Eller students, this is an interdisciplinary opportunity to see how all of their course work comes together” he said. “The Big Pitch is exciting because students get to experience a Shark Tank-like event for an idea they came up with 15 weeks prior.”
Teams from eight sections chose to compete in The Big Pitch Fall 2017. In addition to the winning teams, the other finalists were:
- Bringing You Home, which equips nonprofits with data mining and cloud computing tools and creates an integrated data-sharing platform that streamlines data for effective analysis.
- Future Doctors Foundation, an online lending and donation platform connecting practicing doctors with future medical students to offer lower tuition costs and mentoring.
- Happy Masks, which aims to help alleviate stress and anxieties in children's hospitals through the production of fun, creative and expressive surgical masks for patients and medical professionals.
- Picture Perfect, which prints picture book manuals with large, clear and simple illustrations for the elderly who otherwise might miss out on the latest technological innovations such as iPhones.
- Rowdy, a nightlife app
The first and second place winners were selected by a panel of judges made up of instructors and investors:
- Jan Konstanty spent his early career as a consultant and then researcher at a well-known business school. He has an extensive background in evaluating businesses and markets, and developing new products and businesses. He has been responsible for repositioning and building businesses, and has had regional responsibility and worked in many countries. During his career, he has evaluated numerous institutions and presentations.
- Jason Makansi is the President of Pearl Street, whose clients range from electric utilities, Fortune 50 global energy firms, growing technology firms, and garage shop inventors. He specializes in technology deployment for the electricity and energy industries. A life-long entrepreneur, he has raised venture capital for clients, assisted in creating partnerships and collaborations, launched and managed a hedge fund focused on the electricity supply and delivery value chain, started up innovative publications in energy and environmental affairs, helped tech-based companies grow in preparation for acquisitions and exits, started up and managed two policy groups to support the grid-scale energy storage business, and launched a publishing company.
- Anne Stringfellow, a Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, is currently serving as the instructor for the top-ranked McGuire New Venture Development Program. Previously, Dr. Stringfellow served as Academic Director of the Executive and Online MBA programs at Thunderbird while teaching marketing and data analysis courses across a variety of programs. Dr. Stringfellow holds a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, an EMBA from the University of Utah, and a BSEE from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.