Peyton Price, a University of Washburn student, worked at a Kansas Department of Health and Environment call center during the summer making cold calls.
Price could not wear a face mask as it muffled his voice and made it difficult to communicate with individuals while talking on the phone.
Price previously conceptualized a tool for football coaches called the Call Guard, a connection device that uses cuff and snaps technology to attach to helmets and protect against airborne disease.
“There was no market for it because there are maybe three coaches on the pitch so who would buy it,” Price said.
When she realized the need for employees in call centers, she wondered if Call Guard could be a beneficial tool.
His idea won him first place and $ 8,000 in Washburn’s annual business pitch competition.
This year’s business pitch competition was held in October and funding was awarded on October 19.
Price said his goal is to make the top three in the business pitch competition. She was surprised to find that she had placed first.
“I was nervous all the time,” she said.
Price was not the only winner. The five finalists walked away with a prize ranging from $ 1,000 to the top prize of $ 8,000. The money is funded by Go Topeka.
Abigail McCrory, a senior from Washburn, won second place and $ 6,000 for her pet sitter business Top City Pet Pals. It was his fourth year in competition.
Jared Kerr, a junior in Washburn, pioneered the idea for JKerr’s Detailing. He placed third and received $ 4,000.
“Call Guard is not just for COVID-19”
Call Guard is still in development, Price said.
Price said the device can be connected, but future plans may allow Call Guard to be integrated with headsets.
Price plans to file a provisional patent for the device, which protects the idea for 12 months.
“I don’t want to have it too early because I don’t want to do nothing,” Price said. “Once you do a patent, it’s common knowledge.”
Price has already met with a local manufacturer to learn more about the process.
Feedback The prize received during the competition was positive and enabled him to discover new markets for the device.
“One of the judges is the owner of Chick-fil-A here in Topeka,” Price said. “He came and said to me, ‘I have four outside employees who take orders from people. That would put my clients at ease. You should go get that patent.’”
One question asked of Price is whether the device will be applicable and sustainable after COVID-19.
“Call Guard isn’t just for COVID-19,” Price said. “The emphasis is on that – and that’s how the idea came about – but that’s for any airborne illness.”
Top City Pet Pals seeks to expand
McCrory, who studies entrepreneurship, marketing and innovation with a minor in leadership, has been participating in the business pitch competition since his first year. She placed every year.
McCrory won the Top Freshman Award, placed first in her sophomore year, and second in her junior and senior years.
McCrory’s pet sitter business Top City Pet Pals was a side gig when she pitched the idea at the competition.
She started keeping animals for her friends and family when she was in high school and has continued to do so over the years.
“I just started doing it for other families, and it took really fast,” McCrory said. “… All of a sudden, I was reserved. Now people ask me for information on weekends and I have to refuse it. “
McCrory pitched the idea of expanding Top City Pet Pals and hiring more sitters who could help with the workload.
Nationally, McCrory’s biggest competition could be Rover, a pet sitter app that allows pet owners to choose a sitter to care for their pets.
“They provide a lot of great service and I love the way you can see the different profiles of people, but at the same time, I feel like it feels pretty impersonal,” McCrory said. “The idea with Top City Pet Pals is to be really the hangout in Topeka so that you are more familiar with our keepers and can make that connection.”
Top City Pet Pals offers a variety of pet sitting packages that can be customized to meet the needs of each pet owner.
Those interested in using Top City Pet Pals should email McCrory at [email protected] and put “Top City Pet Pals” in the subject line.
What McCrory might consider her most successful sales pitch to date is Grounded on the Go, a coffee shop food truck concept she introduced in 2019, securing her top spot and $ 8,000 in cash prizes.
McCrory has since worked to get the business started and hopes to open the coffee truck in 2022. It will serve the Greater Topeka area, McCrory said.
The food truck will be an extension of McCrory’s parents, Rossville-based Grounded cafe.
JKerr’s Detailing turns to franchise
Kerr, who specializes in finance and management, has been detailing vehicles since he was around 14 years old.
Two years ago, he started operating his business as JKerr’s Detailing LLC, a mobile beauty shop.
So when the opportunity to participate in the pitch competition presented itself, Kerr decided to use his own business and develop the idea.
“My idea was to franchise my business,” Kerr said.
Anyone interested in detailing cars could work with Kerr to franchise JKerr and teach them how to detail.
Kerr said his next steps would be to speak with people familiar with business franchising and use the $ 4,000 to start expanding the mobile beauty store.
Those interested in using JKerr’s Detailing should contact the company ‘ Facebook page.
How does the pitch competition work?
The business pitch competition is divided into three rounds: knockout, semi-finals and finals.
David Price, a professor of marketing at Washburn and organizer of the pitch competition, said this year there were almost 70 entries.
“It’s a good size, and we really can’t handle much more than that,” Price said.
A panel of judges selects the pitches based on innovation, business model, feasibility and presentation.
Applications are divided into four groups and during the round of 16 students have three minutes to present their idea without using technology.
“It’s really focused on the pitch that way and they don’t have that tech crutch,” Price said.
The top three throws from each group advance to the semi-finals with 12 students or teams remaining. The top five throws are then moved to the final round.
The seven semi-finalists who do not advance to the final round receive $ 100 each.
Finalists have two weeks to work on their final pitch in which they have seven minutes to present and are allowed to use the technology. Each student or team is also assigned a mentor from the Topeka business community.
“During those two weeks, they get a lot of information and they learn a lot,” Price said.
Those who earn money are not required to use the funds to start or grow their business.
For example, McCrory can invest his money in Grounded on the Go, his business pitch that landed him # 1 in 2019.
Price said the money from his prize will most likely go into savings and be used to help pay for the Call Guard patent.
Students do not necessarily have to pursue their business idea to be considered successful in the eyes of the program.
“A lot of these students in the pitch competition are going to be entrepreneurs, but they may not be pursuing this idea,” Price said.
Topekan Connor England, winner in 2016, is one example.
“He does things that are entrepreneurial and launch businesses. He’s just not the one he featured in the competition,” Price said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. It doesn’t have to be that idea. It’s learning the process and how it can be real if you work on it.”
An opportunity to experience the real world
Kerr, McCrory, and Price encourage all students to enter the business pitch competition.
“I think this is a great opportunity for students to gain real world experience,” McCrory said. “It’s not every day that we speak in front of community members, business owners, potential investors.”
The competition also gives students a better understanding of the business process and builds their confidence when presenting ideas.
“I just think it’s really cool for the students at Washburn to be able to show how smart and creative we can be and also be rewarded with money just to help with the bills or move forward. and move forward with our ideas, ”Kerr said.
Price said it was a great learning experience for her.
“This is a great opportunity for students to go through a business process and fund their education,” Price said. “This is where mine goes.”
Brianna Childers is the food and fun journalist for Capital-Journal. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ brichilders3.