In the business world, two minutes can make or break a company.
The Elevator Pitch Challenge, organized by the Weiss Tech House, brought together 19 teams of student entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges in 120 seconds for a shot at one of four prizes last Friday.
“There are a lot of young entrepreneurs with a spark, and we wanted to give them the opportunity to put it out there,” Alice King, a Wharton freshman and organizer of the event, said.
This year, participants had an additional 30 seconds to pitch their ideas as compared to last year’s challenge, and they took advantage of the extra time to flesh out their vision.
Some came to the challenge armed only with their ideas while some came prepared with a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation to showcase them.
College freshman Chris Hariz, representing the team Red Cup, went up to the front of the room holding the iconic red Solo cup. The team’s idea was a Yelp-like mobile app that rates and shows the locations of parties instead of restaurants. The idea, which aims to bridge the communication gap between party hosts and partygoers, won the Audience Choice Award of $100.
Team Red Cup was not the only freshman team in the room. GreenVote, a team comprised of Wharton and Engineering freshmen Arjun Raj Jain, Benedikt Lotter and Karan Hiremath, aimed to tackle the problem of energy waste through opening up better communication with building managers.
Another team named “Lil Red Bag” made up of Wharton freshmen Adina Luo and Molly Liu came up with the idea of selling customized handbags online. Although the idea was only conceived over winter break, their website is already in development. They came to pitch their idea “because we’re really passionate about it,” Liu said.
The Most Innovative Award of $250 went to SnapSite, the brainchild of College seniors Vincent Sanchez-Gomez and Atulya Pandey. The website helps small businesses create a company webpage based on their Facebook pages at the click of a button.
Wharton graduate student Zach Simkin’s Tink and Engineering graduate student James Hui’s PicClick were tied for the Dr. Chris Mader Award for most innovative IT company of $500.
Richard Liu, an Engineering junior and organizer of the event, said that there has been a marked increase in interest in the entrepreneurship community.
“I’ve noticed a trend going for a lot of IT companies,” he said. “I’m not sure if that’s related to PennApps or not, but there’s been a lot of web app or mobile app development.”
Lisa Hilmi, a doctoral student in the Nursing School, came to the challenge to pitch TriggerBuster, a mobile app to educate people about asthma through games and informational blurbs. Although Hilmi thinks that the two-minute presentation time “is a little meager,” she saw a lot of value in the networking opportunity the challenge provided.
TriggerBuster was offered the opportunity of attending the DreamIt Ventures Finalist Interview. If successful, the team will be offered a $50,000 stipend, office space and mentorship for their startup.
During the intermission in the event and at its conclusion, teams and judges mingled together to talk about their ideas. And at the end of the event, one of the judges came up to the founders of SnapSite to give them his business card.
“The goal is to bring together the brightest entrepreneurs and thinkers at Penn together on one evening,” Richard Liu said. “We were exhilarated with the turnout.”