Student entrepreneurs competition heats up Towsley Auditorium
By Jenelle Franklin
Students braved stage fright to compete for a share of $3500 at the second annual Pitch @ WCC event April 20. There was a gain for everyone in the Towsley Auditorium; the Entrepreneurship Center received verbal accolades from the participants, the panel of judges and the audience learned of local entrepreneurs.
“Pitch @ WCC is by far our largest event of the year,” said Kristin Gapske director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Washtenaw Community College.
The EC building is on the north end of campus, across from Community Park.
The contestants worked with staff to build their brand, get advice and assistance from start to finish, something they mentioned on stage was crucial to their success.
The five judges who participated in the contest were:
Joe Licavoli, SPARK; April Davis, Breakout Marketing Group; Garrett Sammons, Nice Shirt Media; Rosemary Wilson, WCC business administration faculty and Kim Kachadoorian, WCC business faculty.
All contestants received typed comments from the judges on their products and presentations after the event.
During the judges’ deliberation, there was a vote for audience favorite– $ won by Brad Vredeveld and Haiying Gan of Sunshine Recumbent.
The competition was split into three categories, Start, Build and Grow. Each represented a level of progress of the contestant.
First place winners:
Xavier Clemons of Credit Card Shavers– competed in Start, the first round of competition winner of $450.
Khalid McDowell and Lamar Turner of AXC Apparel (American Exchange)– competed in Build, round two winner of $600.
Alicia Myers of A’s Custom ESL Tutoring LLC– competed in Grow, final round, winner of $1,000.
All first place and runner up winners were awarded a giant check, reminiscent of a visit from Publishers
The AXC team ended with a unified, “We want this to be your brand as well as ours.”
Other contestants, like round two runner up winner Paige Jones of Cake It Up delivered strong selling points as well.
“You want a Superman cake tomorrow? I got you. A gluten-free or Sponge Bob cake? I got you on that too,” Jones said. Jones took home $300.
Karen Diggs, a contestant who is designing and producing her custom jewelry with cost in mind mentioned her previous experience with success from a past Pitch @ WCC event. “My first inbound lead was directly because of this Entrepeunership Center event,” Diggs said.
Myers took life experience and made a custom-designed business to secure her target market. “I moved to Japan for college,” Myers said.
She currently specializes in Japanese tutoring and translation, designing her own worksheets and recently becoming multi-platform on the web. She continues her face-to-face sessions as well as looks to expand with tutors from other language specialties.