Winners of the 2020 Elevator Pitch Competition gained invaluable experience at Grove City College’s annual contest, along with larger-than-expected monetary prizes.
The competition, organized and hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation (E+I), challenges students to convincingly and comprehensively present their ideas for a new commercial or social enterprise in just two minutes – about the time an entrepreneur would have to impress an investor during an elevator ride.
Due to COVID-19, the competition was held online, with students making their pitches to a three-judge panel via video. The competition was held Friday, Nov. 6 on E+I’s website at gccentrepreneurship.com and is archived here.
"This year, we took the competition to another level. We had approximately 1,000 audience members from 33 different states join us for our virtual Final Round, all eager to see the students pitch their ideas and find out the winners,” said Logan Hammerschmitt, Outreach Coordinator for E+I, who took the lead in taking the contest virtual this year. “This level of attendance simply would not be possible with the traditional in-person event, making the virtual nature of this year's competition all the more valuable."
A field of 21 finalists was culled from dozens of entrants to make “the pitch of their lives,” according to E+I Executive Director Yvonne J. English ’97. "The final round of the competition was a tremendous success, thanks to our amazing finalists and generous reviewers, judges, and sponsors,” English said.
The competition was impressive and, for at least one fan, inspired generosity. “We’ve even had an anonymous spontaneous matching gift from an excited donor who loved the students' ideas, presentations and enthusiasm and was impressed with this year's virtual event. This matching gift allows us to double all of the monetary prizes,” English said. “We’re so appreciative for that donor’s generosity and are proud of all of our finalists!"
The winners and prizes in each category are:
- First place ($1,000) – New Sight: Mark Wilhelm ’24 (Entrepreneurship), a discreet safety system for the visually impaired.
- Second place ($800) – The Safer Headband—Shelton Brower ’24 (Entrepreneurship), a safety device that helps prevent soccer-related concussions.
- Third place ($600) – Kid’s Cultural Crate—Erica Kolson ’21 (Management & Marketing), a kids’ cultural box creating global awareness.
- Fourth place ($400) – PresPros—Adam Densmore ’21 (Accounting & Finance), an online speech coaching/training service.
- Fifth ($200) – Sani-T Box—Judy Anne Spira ’23 (Accounting & Finance), a secure place to hold personal items in public bathroom stalls.
- First place ($1,000) – G.I. Fido: Olivia Whiteman ’23 (Entrepreneurship), upcycled dog accessories created by a veteran labor force.
- Second place ($800) – Journey Art: Mark Wilhelm ’24 (Entrepreneurship), a nonprofit mobile art station serving communities.
- Third place ($600) – LifeBus: Grace Anne Shaw ’24 (Social Work), a mobile healthcare service for rural communities.
Whiteman’s G.I. Fido won the $500 Grove City Foundation Community Impact prize, and the $200 Fan Favorite award went to Spira’s Sani-T Box.
The Elevator Pitch Competition was sponsored by Beans on Broad, Davevic Benefits Consultants, and the Grove City Foundation. Judges were: Drew McCandless ’84, owner of Beans on Broad and retired president and GM of The Sherwin-Williams Company; Damian Rippole ’95, CFO and VP of Finance, Ebb Therapeutics; Laura Johnson ’93, founder of Idea Rocket Consulting; and Dorene Powell, Counseling and Education Professional Board member, The Grove City Foundation.
For more about E+I, visit gccentrepreneurship.com. For more about Entrepreneurship at Grove City College visit gcc.edu/entr.