Everybody dreams of being an inventor or running a business at some point in their life. There are many people aspiring to be the next Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or Vera Wang. What if you could actually make those dreams into a reality? Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of hard work and involves several steps to get your product out into the real world. The Slippery Rock University Rock the Boat: Elevator Pitch Competition, hosted by the SRU Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator, is giving student the steps and guidance that they need to make their dreams a reality.
The Elevator Pitch Competition grants opportunities for students hoping to become young entrepreneurs. Their ideas for a new business pitch or product are presented to a panel of judges to win some cash prizes. While the money is nice, the real prize for students is gaining the skills they need to make it in the competitive entrepreneur field.
Several students have submitted applications to be entered into the competition, some also having partners. Among many of the applicants is senior business management major, Caitlin O’Neil.
O’Neil, 22, has been impressed with the business side of things and how products are made and sold ever since she came to Slippery Rock, so being a part of this competition is beneficial to her, she said.
“I’m a business management major, so running my own business has been something that has always been in the back of my mind,” she said. “So, one day, my friend and I were tossing around ideas about our own potential business and then we saw the flyer for this elevator pitch competition and it seemed like something that we would both be interested in doing.”
O’Neil explained that the competition is for all majors, not just business management students.
“It’s for all majors and it can benefit everyone. Building a product or a business from scratch calls for different types of skills. It calls for math skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, etc. If they have this competition again I definitely think that more people should get involved,” she said. “It’s also very fun. It could be a little stress reliever to some students who are stressing out about the last few weeks of class.”
Cash prizes are awarded to the students who present the best pitch ideas to the panel of judges. $1,000 is awarded to the first place winner, $500 is awarded for second place and $250 is awarded for third place. O’Neil explained how much the money would means to her if she wins.
“If my partner and I win the money, we are definitely going to take some of the money and donate to the Rock Catholic center on campus because we’re both involved,” she said.
In addition to donating to the Rock Catholic center, O’Neil plans to put the rest of the money in a savings account to invest for when she has the chance to start her business after she graduates.
Although O’Neil has her eye on the prize, she admits that she has no clue who is going to win. She believes that she stands a good chance, but she also believes that there are people in the competition that are equally as passionate as her. Although nobody else knows the ideas of others, everyone feels the tension, causing them to be on their toes.
“I hope I win. I think I stand just as good of a chance as anyone else,” she said. “You also never know what the judges are looking for. Someone can have a great product, but could be nervous about public speaking. Or someone could have a not so good product, but their pitch was great. It all really depends.”
The winner of the Rock the Boat competition will be announced on April 16 at 7 p.m.