Pitch perfect: WVU LaunchLab March IDEA Challenge exposes WVU students to entrepreneurial mindsets, idea pitching
Every idea starts with imagination. For seven aspiring West Virginia University collegiate entrepreneurs across four teams, their imagination sparked innovative ideas that led them to participate in the March IDEA Challenge, held virtually March 31. The event was hosted by the West Virginia University LaunchLab.
Story by Heather Richardson, Assistant Dean of Communications, Chambers College
The Idea Challenge gave participants an opportunity to win a total of $2,500 in cash prizes to build their ideas into the next groundbreaking product or business – and a network of support and resources to guide them on their journeys. A total of 10 student teams competed in the first round of competition held on March 15. The top four received $250 and moved on to the final round.
The competition was structured to bolster student experiential learning in entrepreneurship via idea pitching through two rounds of competition. During the first round, contestants were given three minutes to pitch their idea or product via video and a five minute question-and-answer session with the judges. The second round comprised of four teams pitching for five minutes to judges, comprised of innovative business leaders from around the nation, with a five-minute question-and-answer session. Ideas ranged from environmentally-friendly design fabrics, addressing small loan needs and 3D construction mapping and a medical device.
The competition included contestants from a broad field of academic disciplines who competed for the grand prize of $1500 in funding from the LaunchLab to propel their ideas to the next stage of growth.
Competition winner ($1500 prize);
Albert Nunez is a Computer Science major in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. His business idea,“Dream Tidal 3D Construction”, provides an innovative digital solution for 3D mapping.
Alex Cappadona and Akshay Suresh, Finance majors in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics. Their business idea, “Divi”, addresses the need for small loans for short periods of time, keeping the borrower and investor in mind.
Morgan Widmer, Fashion, Dress and Merchandising major in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. Her business idea, “Morgania”, designs clothing from dead stock fabrics – materials that otherwise would go to a landfill.
Aidan Priest, Marketing major, Kennedy Hawkins, MIS and Cybersecurity major, both in the Chambers College of Business and Economics, and Dylan Cunningham, an Engineering Major in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, for their idea, “The Pod” an attachable pod which will store a month's worth of testosterone. Then, a needle quickly drives a small tube subcutaneously and will be controlled by an app which allows the user to select dosage and frequency.
Finalist judges included:
· Moses Skaff, Chief Administrative Officer and Sr. Vice President, Mountaineer Gas Company
· Michael Bowers, Owner, Bowers Fancy Dairy Products
· Sam Chico, Serial Entrepreneur and founder of August Environmental, A2Z Construction and many others.
· Joseph Zuccari, President, CEO and Co-founder of Servarus Systems and CIO for Hamilton Insurance Agency
Carrie White, LaunchLab executive director, said the March IDEA Challenge is one of many ways that the LaunchLab helps students foster entrepreneurial mindsets and grow into innovators.
“Pitch competitions like the Idea Challenge give students practical entrepreneurship experience through identifying business opportunities and creating ideas that solve them,” said White. “The impact of these competitions on students is significant – it is an important first step in fostering innovative mindsets and giving them the coaching and guidance they need to pitch an idea to investors who can help them grow it and take it to market.”
For more information on the LaunchLab, their services and future pitch competitions, please visit launchlab.wvu.edu.
About the West Virginia University LaunchLab
The West Virginia University LaunchLab applied innovation center provides all WVU students and faculty across disciplines with a community-based center offering hands-on idea development support, education, mentorship, prototyping facilities, resources, and connections to innovative entrepreneurs across West Virginia. It is fueled by the John Chambers College of Business and Economics.
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office: