Having an idea that becomes a business venture is what every entrepreneur strives for, but this can be difficult to achieve without sufficient funding. To help young entrepreneurs fund their start-up projects, Grand Valley State University holds an annual idea pitch competition with $1,000 on the line for the winning idea.
The 12th annual idea pitch competition was held Tuesday, Oct. 4 in the L. William Seidman Center. More than 25 GVSU students took the stage one at a time to give their 90-second pitch to a panel of judges. The students were only given a microphone—no visual aids or props allowed. After their presentation, each student was asked a series of follow-up questions from the judges.
Tom Peurach won the first place grand prize of $1,000 for “Tiny Home Community,” a plan to create small affordable homes, which provide a sense of ownership without a hefty financial gamble.
“I wanted to solve the middle ground between the emptiness of renting apartments and jumping into the risks and large expenses of home ownership,” Peurach said. “There’s a great community for it right now, a lot of people are embracing the trend of tiny homes rather than this just being a fad.”
Prospective residents could either purchase a tiny home or lease out a lot space for pricing competitive to renting an apartment.
Peurach said the idea stemmed from his personal desire to live in a tiny home, which he has plans to do after college.
Brittany Taylor placed second, winning $750 for “Pressure Ulcer Prevention” and the third place prize of $500 went to Aaron Schaafsma for “934 Bagwork.”
The annual event is sponsored by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO), along with the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The event is open to all GVSU undergraduate and graduate students interested in starting a business or sharing a start-up idea. In order to participate in the competition, a student must register prior to the event to ensure their application meets all rules of eligibility.
The panel of judges includes an array of entrepreneurs, business professionals, venture capitalists, alumni and angel investors.
Pitches are scored based on the clarity of presentation, identifying key competitors, presenting the market niche size and opportunity, how the investment will be used and the delivery of pitch. Contestants can earn up to 50 points, with an additional five points available in the event of a tiebreaker.
CEO president Zoe Bruyn said the idea pitch competition is an experience to help students get a feel for what business competitions are like and use it as a chance to improve their presentation skills.
The competition is one of many opportunities the organization provides for aspiring entrepreneurs, she added.
“Essentially what we do is help students start and run their own businesses,” Bruyn said. “Students will come to us with ideas and we provide the knowledge and resources connecting them to members of the community who can help push their ideas forward.”
CEO welcomes all students studying any discipline to join the organization or participate in the pitch competition.