Quick Pitch Ignites Entrepreneur Spirit
A unique student contest at CSUSM poses the question, how fast is your fastball? On Tuesday, April 12, 15 aspiring entrepreneurs will deliver a fast two-minute business pitch at the Second Annual Quick Pitch Competition, vying to produce the most compelling new business idea and secure one of three cash prizes. Sponsored by Enterprise and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, this year’s event will be held in Markstein Hall, room 125, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.“It’s exciting to be able to present and market your own creativity whether you’re pitching a product you’ve created or a business idea that you’ve developed,” said recent Business Management graduate Taylor Shannon, who participated in the inaugural event last year. Shannon pitched his product reinvention aptly named, the Fast Flow Funnel, which he designed using a vented system to allow liquid to flow smoothly without air pockets building up in the funnel. Shannon’s pitch and prototype won second place in the student competition.A business pitch, also commonly referred to as an elevator speech, is intended to quickly entice a prospective investor to want to learn more about a service or product idea. The annual competition, which is organized by the College of Business Administration (CoBA) and the Entrepreneurship Society, aims to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in students of all disciplines at the university.Being concise is the hardest part for most students, explained Jim Hamerly, director of Business Community Relations for CoBA. “There’s an art to delivering an effective quick pitch,” he said. “It’s much more difficult to condense a pitch into two minutes than five minutes. With five minutes, a speaker can ramble, but with just two minutes every sentence, every word needs to be purposeful and precisely calculated.”Like a pitching athlete, student entrepreneurs are encouraged to practice in order to refine and master their delivery. Most students will practice a pitch at least 20 times before formally presenting at the April 12th event, Hamerly added.Following the two-minute pitch, a panel of judges comprised of faculty and local entrepreneurs will immediately reveal the student’s scores in two categories – presentation quality and content. Each judge can award a maximum of ten points, which is tallied into a cumulative panel score to determine the top three scoring students.Although traditionally associated with business majors, the annual event is open to all CSUSM students and draws considerable participation from other disciplines. Last year, one-fourth of the selected presenters were College of Arts and Sciences majors.The highest scoring pitches from the inaugural competition included Greg Reese’s proposed Las Vegas express double-decker busing service, Taylor Shannon’s redesign of the household funnel, and Lawren Bocock’s idea for a mobile surfboard repair service that would operate much like roadside assistance does for vehicles.“It was nerve-wracking at first, but once I got over that initial hurdle it was a liberating feeling to share my business concept and get feedback from the judges,” recalled Bocock, who describes herself as a surf enthusiast with an entrepreneur spirit. Her business savvy Ring-A-Ding Surfboard Repair idea earned her third place in last year’s contest. Long considered the lifeblood of the entrepreneur, the business pitch is also universal and commonly used in everyday life. On the most basic level, personal introductions are an abbreviated pitch about oneself intended to have the receiver want to know more about the individual.“Everyone is a salesperson in some context,” said Hamerly. “It’s a useful life skill to be able to articulate your point and garner support from those you’re speaking with.”Students interested in pitching their product or service idea at the annual Quick Pitch Competition on April 12 can submit a proposal request online at www.csusm.edu/coba.