December 1, 2010
WOOSTER, Ohio — A wide range of creative ideas flowed from the dais in Lean Lecture Room of Wishart Hall last month month as finalists in the Center for Entrepreneurship’s second annual Idea Day “Pitch Off” shared innovative proposals with faculty, staff, visitors, and fellow students.
The presenters were given two-and-a-half minutes to make their pitch. Many used PowerPoint, but others, like first-year Margaret Olson and senior Nana Boamah-Acheampong, used videos for dramatic effect and support. Once each pitch was completed, audience members were invited to ask questions and provide feedback for the next 60 seconds.
It was a festive, yet stressful, circus-like environment, in which student presenters were ever mindful of their time limit because a live band, The Green Bean Recipe, would begin to play jazz-style music as time ran out. Adding to the atmosphere was a disco ball that spun overhead and light bulb-shaped balloons that were tossed into the audience. After the presentations were made, voters chose their favorite idea by using electronic remote units.
Student ideas focused on global as well as local audiences. Catherine Gillette, a sophomore, snagged a $300 third prize for her proposal, “Children are Reading, Earning, Succeeding” (C.A.R.E.S.), a non-profit organization that would pay children in Honduras for reading books. “Education is the solution,” said Gillette, who noted that getting paid to read and to learn could decrease the likelihood of parents in Honduras pulling their children out of school to help work and support their families.
Senior Amanda Keith also won $300 for her idea of installing a “green” covering on the roof of McGaw Chapel, which would extend its lifespan. Other projects included first-year Oscar Mmari’s $400 second-prize proposal of a milk-butter lotion with mosquito repellent to help ward off malaria in African countries.
Several top prizes were awarded. One went to junior Nancy Tinoza and sophomore Rutendo Ruzvidzo for their “From Chicken to Graduate” project. For this project, students at Glen View High 1 would be given money to start a chicken rearing project. Students would raise the chickens themselves and then sell the chickens to purchase textbooks for the school in Glen View 3, Harare, Zimbabwe. Another top prize went to senior Zach Boyleston for his idea of a bike holster bag to make commuting on a bicycle with a backpack a lot easier.
The Fans’ Choice Award was presented to Hayet Rida for her Ghana photo project, through which women would be taught photography, and their photographs would then be used on postcards, which she hoped would “create a bridge between a woman’s life and her financial independence.” Rida, who also was a first-prize winner, placed postcard images beneath every seat before the event as part of her marketing strategy.
James Levin, director of Wooster’s Center for Entrepreneurship, was delighted by the presentations, and he encouraged students to continue developing sustainable entrepreneurial projects. "Embedded in this circus-like show were a myriad of very compelling ideas,” he said. “Entrepreneurship begins with the idea, the vision. The students are learning that having the idea is only the very beginning. The easy part. Then comes the ‘expression’ of the idea, followed by implementation, which involves considerably more preparation and planning, but the Pitch-Off is certainly a great way to demonstrate that entrepreneurship is thriving here at the College. We are delighted at the number of ideas submitted, the quality of the ideas, and the great attendance at the event. Stay tuned. In February, we will see part II — the implementation round.”
Written by Libby Fackler '13
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