Grove City College’s Elevator Pitch Competition (EPC), sponsored by Beans on Broad, challenges entrepreneurial students to effectively sell potential investors on a venture and to do it very quickly.
Each student has just two minutes to convince a panel of judges that their ideas have both merit and the potential to turn a profit.
Since 2007, the College’s Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation (E+I) has hosted the competition and some of the winners turned their EPC ideas into growing businesses. The “elevator” pitch is a frequently used term, which literally means “tell me about your new venture within the time it would take to ride up an elevator.”
The 2022 edition was held Wednesday, Nov. 9 as fifteen finalists made their pitches to a panel of three expert judges while an in-person and online audience watched. The finalists were selected from a pool of more than 150 students who prepared video pitches for the competition by a team of volunteer alumni evaluators. With a packed house in Sticht Auditorium and approximately 500 individuals tuning in online, student participants were presenting to a wide-reaching audience.
Junior Luke Mantzell, a Finance and Entrepreneurship major from West Middlesex, Pa., cleaned up, taking first place in the Social Enterprise category, and winning the Social Impact and Fan Favorite awards with his pitch for the Book N Bullet Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the declining hunting population.
That decline, he said, “raises a huge problem in the conservation world of not enough hunters or predators to manage the growing deer population.” He proposed an effort to increase the hunting population through education and mentorship.
Mantzell says he isn’t sure if he’s going to take Book N Bullet any further than the EPC, but said he is trying to get his pitch video to the Pennsylvania Game Commission to gauge interest in the idea. “Depending on responses, I could be moving forward with the idea to turn this idea into real life. The next steps are: to be continued…,” he said. Mantzell took home $850 for his efforts.
Following Mantzell in the Social Enterprise category were: Mary Golias, a freshman Design and Innovation major, in second place with her pitch for Art on Wheels, a business serving low-income communities with art education and spiritual support; and Benjamin Lockwood, a senior Finance major, in third with Adopt a Golfer, a venture that connects at-risk youth with golf mentors. Golias took a $400 prize and Lockwood netted $300.
In the Commercial Enterprise category, Shelton Brower, a junior Marketing major, won first place and $500 with SoloCollar, an electronic dog collar. Junior Design and Innovation major Sarah Welker’s pitch for MadeFree, an allergen-free protein bar, won second place and $400 and senior Entrepreneurship major Joe Gray took third place and $300 with Cliqz, a social network that gives people friends and plans.
The $250 Social Impact Prize was sponsored by the Grove City Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, and presented by Dorene Powell, vice president of the foundation. An audience vote determined the $100 Fan Favorite Award, and nearly 400 votes were received in total.
“The Grove City Foundation was excited to encourage the development of the next generation of philanthropists through the sponsorship of the Social Impact Prize for the Elevator Pitch Competition. Luke Mantzell’s pitch for his Book N Bullet Foundation is a great example of how a creative social enterprise can address challenges specific to the unique culture of a community or region,” Powell said. “We look forward to seeing the impact these students make as they take their ideas and put them into action.”
The competition was open to students from all majors and ideas could be at any stage of development from creation of concepts or ideas to an established venture. The goal of the EPC is to teach students to communicate effectively and allow their charisma and positive characteristics to shine through in just a short pitch. It demonstrates the networking and presentation skills essential to any entrepreneur or business professional.
"This year's competition was a tremendous success, with students from 30 different majors actively participating. This broad reach of participation effectively highlights our center's mission to serve students of all majors on campus," said Logan Hammerschmitt '16, campus director for the Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation. "Providing students with the opportunity to pitch their original ideas in front of hundreds of viewers, both in-person and online, gives them valuable experience and exposure. Our panel of judges was very impressed by the aptitude of those presenting, and we can't thank them enough for giving so generously of their time and knowledge to help make this year's competition a success."
Judges were Tim Daigle ’84, senior business advisor, AXIA Consulting; Carrisa Habsburg ’11, tax director, Sisterson & Co LLP; and Brian Gongaware ’92, principal, regional managing director, and director of advisory services, McKinley Carter Wealth Services, Inc.
Volunteer reviewers in the first round of the competition were: Alexandria Bailey ‘20, Tiffany Bicek ‘18, Chris Botting ’83, Mark Brody ’83, Abigail Brothers ’21, Leslie Craven ’94, Craig Creaturo ’92, Daniel Creston ’81, Kris Deemer ’90, Ruth Entwistle ’07, Sondra Fisher ’82, Kim Ford ’72, Collin Foster ’12, Sandy Frederick ’96, Jennifer Gilliland, Curt Given ’84, Alex Graham ’67, Glenn Grossman, Victoria Hassett ’12, Ethan Hayward ’20, Lindy Hitzel ’19, Calvin Holston ’05, John Holt ’84, Heather Hondel ’20, Edward Huttenhower ’76, Melissa Jacobs ’92, Barbara Johnson ’79, Bob Keller ’73, Sharon LeJeune ’89, Beth Lepore ’96, Robert Lewis ’03, Don Lockhart ’67, Amanda MacIsaac ’05, Kim Marks ’04, Beth Marraccini ’96, Dean Marraccini ’93, Paul Marshall ’78, Wendy Marshall ’81, Elaina McClure ’18, Scott McDowell ’87, Winifred McGee ’77, Alan Mesches ’71, Ronald Miller ’75, Brian Montgomery ’96, Garrison Moore ’11, Jeff Moxie ’80, Curt Newill ’67, Elisabeth O’Brien ’16, Susan Parrett ’01, Robin Parsons ’87, Michael Pentz ’06, Warren Poschman ’98, Patricia Premick ’84, Dianne Ruhl ’89, Joshua Sauer ’15, Charles (Bob) Scott ’72, Alissa Sgro ’96, Mark Smith ’83, Zachary Smith ’15, Steve Solman ’96, Heather Starcher ’81, Cameron Suorsa ’21, Allyson Sveda ’88, Jill Sweet ’85, Ron Templeton ’12, Ann Thomas ’93, James Will ’98, Lesley Winfield ’92, and Allison Ziegler ’17.
EPC sponsors include Beans on Broad and the Grove City Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.
To watch a recording of the event or learn more about The Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation, visit gccentrepreneurship.com.