Innovation pitch

From left to right: Rebecca Lyons, 'audience choice' winner, Mitchell Hora, 'best new business idea' winner, John Clark and Chris James, 'overall best pitch' winners, Brendon Geils, 'new innovation' winner, and Renee Layoun, 'best social venture' winner, accept their checks at the Innovation Pitch event held in the M-Shop March 8. 

The sharks waited in the tank as the Entrepreneurship and Innovation learning community hosted its seventh Annual Innovation Pitch Competition on Wednesday.

Thirty-eight Iowa State students had 90 seconds to pitch their business idea and two minutes to answer any questions the judges had. If a student went over either time limit, a bell would ring, abruptly stopping the student mid-thought.

There were three different categories students could pitch in for a $500 prize: new business idea, new innovation and social venture.

Ideas ranged from social networking apps to remotely operate underwater vehicles (ROV).The grand-prize winner for best overall pitch was a team of two freshman students, winning $1,000.

Chris James, freshman in entrepreneurship, and John Clark, double major in entrepreneurship and marketing, pitched their winning business, True 360.

Innovation pitch

Chris James, freshman in pre-business, accepts his $1,000 check for winning 'overall best pitch' at the Innovation Pitch event held in the M-Shop March 8. 

“I was sitting in economics class,” James said, "and I thought it would be really cool if someone put a 360 camera on an ROV.”

The two built a prototype ROV. They are working to live stream the video to a live headset without delay. They will be able to install it into aquariums.

“[This award] really shows the interest [in the business], which is exciting,” Clark said.

For the first time, the competition took place in the Memorial Union's M-Shop.

“It has more of that theatrical feel,” said Diana Wright, marketing and program coordinator for the Papa John Center for Entrepreneurship. "It’s also on campus and provides more seating for the audience." 

Eve Iversen, senior in agricultural and life sciences education, has participated in this event for four years, and won it twice.

“This event has expanded exponentially in the four years that I’ve participated,” Iversen said. “These are formidable people coming in now with really polished presentations."

Innovation pitch

Chris James (middle) and John Clark (right) accept their $1000 reward after winning 'overall best pitch' at the Innovation Pitch event held in the M-Shop March 8, 2017. James and Clark, both freshmen in pre-business, pitched the idea of their product, called "Truth 360." The idea behind "Truth 360" is to install 360 degree cameras into zoo exhibits and aquarium tanks, sending the camera footage to virtual reality headsets. People can then wear the headsets and experience it as if they were up-close with the animals. 

When she first started, there were fewer than 20 people pitching.

Austin Gerber, senior in aerospace engineering, found out about the competition two hours before and pitched his social networking app, Party and Event Management (PEM), when the audience was asked if anyone would like to pitch.

“It was a little bit hectic,” Gerber said about those two hours. “I figured an opportunity like this doesn’t come along very often, so you got to take the chances and be willing to put yourself out there."

A representative from each of the four sponsors — Renewable Energy Group, Workiva, Ames Economic Development Commission and ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship severed as judges for the competition.

“This is getting people introduced to sharing their ideas and pitching,” Wright said. “Providing this experience to them, where they’ll be in an environment and where they can get feedback on their ideas right away.”

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