Monday November 7, 2011

A Winning Pitch

Up-and-coming entrepreneurs had one minute to pitch a promising business idea and 15 will advance to the next stage of the Business Plan Competition.

Innovative business ideas ranging from heated bleacher seats to in-vehicle glucose meters took home elevator pitch prizes in the first round of the University of Dayton's 2011-2012 Business Plan Competition. 

Dean McFarlin, chair of the University's management and marketing department and NCR Professor of Global Leadership Development, said many of the entries demonstrated new, creative uses of technology or social media. 

Now in its sixth year, the competition offers nearly $140,000 in total support with a $25,000 top prize along with expert advice on transforming a great idea into a viable, marketable, innovative business plan. 

University of Dayton students, alumni and local entrepreneurs submitted nearly 100 entries and competed in the Oct. 29 elevator pitch contest, the first round of the competition. 

Fifteen entries will move on to the five-minute semifinal cameo round and will each earn $1,000 for presenting in that round. Not all elevator pitch winners were selected as semifinalists; not all semifinalists were elevator pitch winners. 

Of the 10 elevator pitch winners, six are University of Dayton students; 11 of the cameo round teams include University students or alumni. 

Elevator pitch winners are:

  • First place, $1,500: Genevieve Catalano; TravelBlender, an online service to match travelers with ideal companions and destinations.
  • Second, $1,000: Candace Klein; SoMoLend, a Web- and mobile-based lending company.
  • Third, $500: Aaron Pugh; The Hot Seat, a heated bleacher pad with back support.
  • Fourth, $500: Catherine M. Armstrong; SafeStart In-vehicle Glucose Monitor, a device to test glucose levels of diabetics and prevent a car from running if the level is not in an acceptable range.

Other elevator pitch winners of $250: Alexander Chilton, Brightly Born, easy-to-prepare meals for pregnant women; Todd Duplain, Creating Character, mobile apps to help children and parents with goal-setting; Meredith Hirt, Haughty Heels, shoes that convert from high heels to flats; Cheryl Ang, The Biggest Check-In, social media advertising for brand awareness; Hannah C. Reilly, Lightly Salted Solutions, a light unit embedded in a salt shaker to help diners read menus in dim restaurants; Meredith Baer, Casserole Caddy, a device to help safely transport food dishes in automobiles.  

Cameo round semifinalists will each be awarded $1,000 for making a five-minute presentation Nov. 19:

  • Elevator pitch winners Catalano, Klein, Duplain, Armstrong and Pugh
  • Nathan Link, Noble Hydration
  • Andy Hill, TalkToMe Media
  • Martin Piszkiewicz, The Chemical-Free Aerosol Can
  • Ben Oren, Sabi Sushi — The Restaurant Without a Restaurant
  • Robyn Bradford, Smart Data Company
  • Matt Antenucci, Low-Cost Wind Turbine Project
  • Daniel Vucenovic, Aggiez Inc.
  • Joe Kiser, Safety Lighting System
  • Ryan Walter,
  • Emily Meyer, Xtend Workstation

Five finalists will be selected from the cameo round to compete for the $25,000 top prize. All finalists also will be assigned outside mentors to help develop complete business plans. Final presentations will be held in early March; winners are announced at the School of Business Administration's entrepreneurship program banquet in April.

The University of Dayton is recognized nationally for its innovative programs for student entrepreneurs. The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine ranked the program in the past six years as one of the top 15 programs in the nation.

For more information on the competition contact Diane Sullivan at or visit the related link.