Mercer business students at the Macon and Atlanta campuses pitched their ideas for nonprofits and for-profits in the 2022 Elevator Pitch competition on April 1 for a $500 prize to help grow their businesses. ideas.
Elevator pitches last approximately two minutes and aim to capture an entrepreneur’s ability to explain their business concept at an organized and efficient pace. The entrepreneur should be able to step into a hypothetical elevator, meet a potential investor, and convey the essence of their business by the time the elevator reaches the 20th floor to keep investors interested in scheduling another meeting for more information.
The competition was open to all students currently enrolled at Mercer University, undergraduate and graduate, from any campus. There have been 19 submissions this year with judges selecting the top eight finalists to present last Friday on Zoom. The judges then posed questions to each presenter and selected a winner from one for-profit company and one not-for-profit company.
Briana S. Stenard, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business, served as the Elevator Pitch Competition’s faculty advisor for the third year in a row and enjoyed seeing all the pitches last week.
“I love seeing students pitch their ideas,” Stenard said. “I know it takes a lot of courage to present your ideas to a jury, so I’m so proud of our students. I am always very impressed with the quality of their presentations. I love seeing them share their passions and try to solve important problems.
Stenard launched the competition in 2020 to help students pitch their ideas and get feedback from mentors and judges before coming up with a full business plan. The competition aims to allow students to reflect on their ideas and decide if this might be something they would like to pursue in the future.
“The goal of the Mercer Innovation Center is to support our Mercer student entrepreneurs through mentorship and funding,” Stenard said. “This competition achieves both goals by giving students feedback on their ideas and some seed money to help bring their ideas to fruition.”
Stephanie Troemel, a graduate student working on an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship and innovation and the competition-winning for-profit company, first heard about Stenard’s competition and was intrigued by the opportunity to practice in an environment low-stakes businessman while receiving feedback for his pitch. She also nearly missed it due to health issues, but was happy to be able to participate just in time for the competition.
“I really enjoyed hearing the other students’ arguments,” Troemel said. “The other finalists have amazing ideas and are really passionate and excited about them. I hope they can move forward with their ideas!
Her winning pitch was for MakeNow, an app that takes PDFs of crafting patterns and makes them mobile-friendly and easy to use, saving time, paper and frustration for a successful interactive experience. Going into the competition, Troemel was understandably nervous about giving him his pitch.
“It’s something that scared me!” said Troemel. “I’m not a big fan of public speaking and it usually takes me a good 10 minutes to get comfortable in front of a room.”
Troemel, however, found his speech to be something she was passionate about and thought it would bring a lot of positivity to the world. It was worth pushing the presentation in order to receive feedback from the professionals.
MBA student and non-profit business pitch winner Holly Burke also enjoyed listening to the other pitches and was able to learn a lot from the other students and judges.
“I think going to events like this is a great idea,” Burke said. “I learned a lot through the process.” and it’s also a great way to get out of your comfort zone.
Burke’s idea was Intentional Freedom, a nonprofit program intended to educate ex-offenders on good money management, saving habits, budgeting and investing habits to give them the ability and the opportunity to take control of their finances and their future and enable them to make changes towards a pro-social lifestyle.
Burke initially submitted his pitch for extra credit, but later entered the competition with encouragement from Dr. Stenard.
“I wish I had been to events like this earlier in my school career,” Burke said. “It’s a great way to get out of your comfort zone.”
With the competition ending this year, Stenard hopes more Mercer students will participate in future competitions. She believes that you don’t have to be just a business student to have a great business idea.
There will be a follow-up event, the Next Big Idea competition, which is a full business pitch competition event that all students can apply for. The next big idea has longer pitches and bigger prizes and even more incentives.