Biodegradable packaging made from milk and a company aiming to reduce the world’s mosquito population won the judges’ favor in Grove City College’s 15th annual Elevator Pitch Competition.
Students had just two minutes to pitch their commercial or social business ideas in the recent entrepreneurial showdown sponsored by the College’s Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation.
Maddy Fry ’23, a junior Biology major from Butler, Pa., won first place in the commercial enterprise division with Greener Packaging. Her idea for a company that produces packaging products made from the casein protein in cow’s milk sourced from local dairy farms won the panel of judges over and netted Fry a $500 prize.
“My product addresses the reliance on single-use plastic and the extremely large amount of plastic that is thrown away every year in the United States and the difficulty of the dairy industry, in which many farmers are finding it very difficult to continue to make a living,” Fry said.
Mosquitocide, a company committed to reducing the world’s mosquito population and eradicating bug borne disease, advanced by Peter Judge ’25, a freshman Computer Science major from Coatsville, Pa., took the lead among social enterprise finalists. Judge netted a $500 cash prize.
“My idea was an innovative modern mosquito trap that mimics the human chemicals and skin that only attract mosquitoes. My hope was to come up with a way to reduce the mosquito population without harming other insects that are good for our environment,” Judge said.
This year’s contest, held on Nov. 10, marked the Elevator Pitch Competition’s 15th year. Since the first EPC in 2007, participation has quadrupled and attracted more students from a vast variety of majors, with 23 different degree tracks represented by the 130 entries. A field of 75 reviewers consisting of alumni and business professionals narrowed the field to 17 finalists from 10 different majors in a preliminary round of recorded student videos.
While the pitches were in person this year, the contest retained facets of the virtual version launched last year to observe pandemic protections, including a livestream, with viewers from 26 different states, and virtual voting for the Fan Favorite award. Gus Minotto ’23, a junior Biblical and Religious Studies major from Mohrsville, Pa., won the $100 prize for Vibe (glasses that help those with ADHD focus).
Competition sponsor The Grove City Foundation, an affiliate of The Community Foundation of Western PA and Eastern OH, presented its Social Impact Prize to the idea that would have the greatest impact on the local community. The winner of that $250 award was Logan Richardson ’24, a sophomore Computer Science major from Jamestown, N.Y. for Code Purpose, an idea for a business that connects software developers with nonprofits.
Other winners were:
- Second Place ($400) – Molly McCommons ’25 (Undecided); Kids Too
- Third Place ($300) Logan Richardson ’24 (Computer Science); Code Purpose
- Second Place ($400) – Micah Fazekas ’25 (Marketing); Speed Swipe
- Third Place ($300) – Caroline Dawson ’25 (Entrepreneurship); Safe N’ Tasty
- Fourth Place ($200) —Shelton Brower ’24 (Marketing); H2Only
- Fifth Place ($100) – Mark Wilhelm ’23 (Entrepreneurship); Epi-let
The goal of the Elevator Pitch Competition is to teach students to communicate effectively and allow their charisma and positive characteristics to shine through in just a short pitch. The competition demonstrates the networking and presentation skills essential to any entrepreneur or business professional.
Fry said the competition provided “a valuable opportunity to practice thinking like an entrepreneur and develop an idea to creatively solve a problem.” Judge said it gives students a chance to practice presenting their ideas “in a coherent and meaningful manner—which is required in the real world.”
Judges for the final round were Colleen Albright, chief operating officer, Right Management – Great Lakes Region; John Henne ’89, president and owner, Henne Jewelers, Pittsburgh; and Dane Mossgrove ’16, supervisor, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (Greater Pittsburgh Region). Dorene Powell, Vice President, The Grove City Foundation, judged the social impact prize. “The passion exhibited by the students was infectious. I was amazed by the poise, confidence, and creativity of the finalists. The EPC leadership did a fantastic job preparing the students for the realities of tomorrow’s business environment,” said Albright.
The competition is sponsored by Beans on Broad, Grove City and The Grove City Foundation, an affiliate of The Community Foundation of Western PA and Eastern OH.
A replay of the competition can be found online at The Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation. For more about the center, visit gccentrepreneurship.com.