The UTC Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO Club) hosted Round 2 of 4th Annual Elevator Pitch Contest on Monday, Oct. 12. The event was part of Startup Week Chattanooga, a multi-day celebration of Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial community.
Now in its fourth year, the competition gives contestants the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of expert judges within a 90-second time frame.
Nearly 20 students sent in applications to the pitch contest and of those, 15 business ideas were presented in round one of the contest on the UTC Campus. Winners from round one went on to the final round, which took place in the New Edney Innovation Center’s Floor 5.
This year’s winners were Cora-Leigh O’Neal and Mandy Power with the “What’s In My Kitchen?” app design. “What’s In My Kitchen?” is an app that will suggest recipes based on the ingredients the user already has in their pantry or fridge. The students saw a need for a recipe app that will not force its users to purchase expensive or hard to find ingredients for just one dish or cause buyers to purchase ingredients that they did not remember that they already owned. The runner-up for 2015 was “Friendly Flowerpot” with Lacey Hartman. Lacey’s concept targets the Green market with simplicity for keeping houseplants alive. With built-in moisture, temperature, and solar sensors, the Friendly Flowerpot makes gardening easy for everyone by telling you at a glance what your plant needs on a digital display.
Dr. Beverly Brockman, Department Chair for Marketing and Entrepreneurship as well as Faculty Sponsor for the CEO Club which hosts the event, spoke to the collaboration between UTC and the Chattanooga entrepreneurship community. The continued success of the student pitch is a testament to the quality teaching and support from the Entrepreneurship Faculty at UTC as well as the business support from the Chattanooga Entrepreneurship community. The three community judges for the Pitch this year were Kristina Montague from the JumpFund, Mike Bradshaw from Co.Lab, and Louis Savard with Comcast Business. The event was MC’d by Monty Bruell, owner of the radio show “Start it Up” and chief marketing officer and VP of sales and marketing for RapidRMS. The students who won were awarded with trophies, $2000 prize money for the winners and $1000 prize money for the runner-up, a paid trip to compete in a regional completion in Tampa, FL in February, and a variety of mentoring sponsorships: Mentoring with the LampPost Group, Company Lab, legal advice from Miller & Martin, and Pitch mentoring from Comcast Business. The winners were also given free tickets to attend AngelSummit, US, a two day conference in Chattanooga bringing together 250+ leaders to discuss the future of startup investing.
We thank the other three student groups that pitched in the competition. Please encourage them with their future business ideas as well! Those who pitched were Livingstone and Company, founded by Brandon Sharpe and Graham Slaughter. Livingstone and Company is a modern luxury technology atelier (workshop) specializing in the development, refinement, and creation of the world’s most unique and fashionable mobile technology devices, crafting luxury tailored mobile devices. Ryan Hudson pitched Ravel Guide, an online travel service he plans to start with his partner Manuela Gonzalez. Ravel Guide is an innovative new travel guide service that unravels the confusion of travel planning by providing travelers with handy, helpful information without being overwhelming. For mid-range and budget travelers, it will provide customers with a highly curated, constantly updated travel guide and access to current in-country costs, upcoming events, and useful information. F.A.M.E.D. (Fresh Above MEdia Direction) a small company that specializes in High School Athletic video production that covers both teams and players. Jeff Ellis and Hayden Cliche founded F.A.M.E.D. and it provides season highlight tapes, film and edit every game for the school to broadcast where it pleases, and provide individual players with their own highlight tape for use in college recruitment.
An added enjoyment of this year’s Elevator Pitch was the Pitch alumni speakers in between the student presentations. Josh Kapellusch with MACH Fuels participated in the UTC Pitch competition in 2011. He was able to present at the regional competition but did not place there. However, Josh has gone on to successfully start and grow MACH Fuels. “Mach Fuels is a Chattanooga based, veteran-owned company and we believe solving community problems with community resources, to make our communities a better place to live – our philosophy is based on the American way of life. Our customers are proud to support lower-cost, cleaner-burning, American made fuels. Our customers receive a full service alternative fuel solution from us. We take care of everything from the conversions, to the refueling, to maintenance and stand behind all our work.” Please visit their site at www.machfuels.com to follow them and their Blazer of Glory project. Current UTC student Daniel Taylor is founder of Advanced Inventions, best known for the Ladder Levelizer. Daniel won the UTC Pitch completion in 2014 and was able to pitch his product at the National Competition, placing 4th in the nation. The Ladder Levelizer is a patented wedge designed ladder stabilizer and is offered at several retail stores as well as Amazon.com. https://ladderlevelizer.com/ is the site to visit if you have any painting or repair projects in your near future. The third Pitch alum to speak was Andrew Byrum. Andrew is a recent UTC graduate who pitched last year in Round One of the competition. Although he did not advance in the competition, Andrew has gone on to start his company, Get Seated. Get Seated is an app that allows customers to see real wait times in participating restaurants. After going through Beta-testing and tweaking the algorithms, Get Seated is ready to launch in the next month! Please visit http://getseated.org/ for more information or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
The UTC CEO club’s Elevator Pitch competition would not have been a continued success without the support of its sponsors: the Clarence E. Harris Chair of Excellence In Business & Entrepreneurship, the LampPost Group, and an anonymous donation in honor of Scotty Probasco. We would also like to thanks the companies that are providing mentoring support to our students: LampPost Group, CoLab, Miller & Martin, and Comcast Business. A special thanks to Ken Hays and the Enterprise Center as the UTC Pitch competition was the first group to utilize the new Floor 5 community space in the Edney Innovation Center! We were glad to be able to host an event through the 2nd annual StartUp Week Chattanooga.