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Pitch it to win it

The Shark Tank-inspired 2014 Idea Competition

Sponsored by the ABCE (Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship), this year’s Idea Competition was held on Nov. 12 in The Commons Sports Zone. Aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to a panel of judges for prizes ranging from $250 to $750.  

Much like the popular show Shark Tank, but less demanding, UMBC students at the 2014 Idea Competition were expected to pitch their ideas in a professional manner within three minutes in the Sports Zone. It was then up to the judges and the audience to vote on who rightfully earned the winning title in each category.

The cash prizes were broken up into the following categories: Best Idea for $750, Second Place Idea for $500, Third Place Idea for $250 and Best Pitch for $250. Of course, it’s not enough to just have a good idea; judges paid close attention to how each idea was presented.

Vivian Armor, director of ABCE, said, “This is the fifth year of the Idea Competition. We narrowed it down to the top 10 picks. Unfortunately, the sixth student scheduled to go has an important chemistry exam tonight and can’t make it.” Then, the first five competitors took the stage one by one pitching their ideas.

Entrepreneurs and judges Mike Adelstein, Lily Bengfort and Peter Parker are all UMBC alumni. Their judging criteria were based on identification and definition of the problem/opportunity, originality of idea, value creation, feasibility of implementing the solution/Idea and impact of the solution/idea.

As anyone could imagine, it was no easy task squeezing a presentation into only three minutes. Some, of course, were cut off early. Still, Armor said, “I thought everyone presented outstanding ideas.” Each of them certainly demonstrated a strong passion for their idea and its potential.

After the first five presented, they were welcomed back to the stage for a series of questions from the judges. Then, the last four got their chance and the questioning process repeated. Before the ballots were accounted for and the winners were announced, students in the audience got an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions.

Tied for the Best Idea was presenter of Electronic Triage Tags for Mass Casualty Incidents, Patrick Wheltle and the True Greens team of Andres Camacho, Tom Eliason, Samual Buettner and Sarah Miller. Each were awarded the first place cash prize of $750. Patrick Wheltle was also awarded the Best Pitch title, adding to the already exciting night. Finally, Nitin Sampathi earned the Third Place Idea with Indi – Exploration and Exercise.

“The 2015 Idea Competition is planned to come back around next November. Coming up in the spring [April 23, 2015], is the Cangialosi Business Innovation Competition,” said Armor. Back for its second year, the CBIC is a more drawn-out version of the Idea Competition and another great opportunity for any UMBC aspiring entrepreneurs to really get their foot in the door.