Higher Education, Lakeshore, and Small Business & Startups

Elevator pitch contest stops for ideas

December 25, 2014
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Elevator pitch contest stops for ideas
Tracy Stremus, left, of Baker College of Muskegon, Katie Piotrowicz of Careerline Tech Center and Micaela Ontiveros of Baker College of Muskegon accept their checks after the Emerge Elevator Pitch Competition. Courtesy Baker College

The ideas by a trio of entrepreneurial students recently stood out at an elevator pitch competition

Baker College of Muskegon said last week that the fourth-annual Emerge Elevator Pitch Competition this month at Muskegon Community College awarded $2,250 for ideas from three students at Baker College and Careerline Tech Center in Holland.

The competition produced by Emerge West Michigan in Grand Rapids invites college and high school students to pitch an idea, product, service or business before a panel of judges without any presentation materials.

Each competitor has roughly two minutes, which is related to the average duration of an elevator ride.

Linda Meyers, a program director at Baker College, said the panel looks for unique ideas, listens to see if the market is well defined and critiques the idea based on its viability and sustainability.

“This competition opens up students to the exciting possibilities they have as an entrepreneur,” Meyers said. “It takes a lot of courage and confidence to speak in front of the audience and the judges.”

Winning ideas

The event featured pitches by 14 students.

Micaela Ontiveros, a student at Baker College of Muskegon, won the $1,000 first-place prize for CANU, which is a mobile app that would allow college students to order fast food that’s delivered to them on campus. Her goal is to launch the app in January.

Katie Piotrowicz, a student at Careerline Tech Center, won the $750 second-place prize for her specialized bakery CakeScoop, which would allow customers to decorate their own cupcakes or create cupcake sandwiches.

Tracy Stremus, a Baker College student, won the $500 third-place prize after pitching her houseboat rental business Stay Afloat. She expects to launch the business next May. The 35-foot houseboat would be rented by the day, week or weekend from spring to fall and be located on White Lake.

Both Baker College students are planning to use the cash award to fund their entrepreneurial ideas.

“Winning this competition helps validate a student’s idea, so they can go on to the next phase of development,” Meyers said.

Entrepreneurial experience

Meyers, who is also a founding member of Emerge West Michigan, added that events like the Emerge Elevator Pitch Competition allow young entrepreneurs to gain experience pitching ideas in front of potential investors, while gaining valuable feedback from judges.

“Entrepreneurs are what drives our economy today and in the future,” Meyers said. “Students need to understand they play a major role in helping our economy by opening a business, small or large. It used to be one would graduate and go work for someone else. This competition is the first step in showing students they can work for themselves in a challenging and rewarding career.”

Lee Coggin, president at Baker College of Muskegon, said the success of the students reflects positively on the faculty members who helped prepare them.

“We are proud to have such admirable students representing Baker College,” Coggin said. 

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