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Sound the Gong: Entrepreneurial Pitches Return

Delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Matt Fitzgerald’s senior Entrepreneurial Studies class participated in the always competitive, and highly anticipated, Pitch Competition for the first time in two years. This contest asks students to formulate a concept for their own business, pitch the idea to their peers in less than 60 seconds, and receive critical feedback from the chosen judges—this year, director of activities Cabell Doswell and science teacher Bradley Kovach. If students exceed 60 seconds, they hear the signature gong, famously played by CFO Boota DeButts. The class challenges students to learn about basic business modeling, to develop ideas for new products and services, and to prioritize tasks in a start-up environment.

“Ultimately the pitch competition is about bringing a heightened level of focus and energy to their ideas and making it real,” Fitzgerald explained.

Intriguing company ideas unveiled during the Pitch Competition included “Dorm Dash,” “Cooking Connection,” “Fresh Kicks,” “Fitting Room,” and “Quick Brew.” 

Alpha Bah ’22, pitched an inclusive app called “Sports Buddy.” Bah considers it the “Tinder of sports apps” that matches its users who have similar athletic interests. Unlike Tinder, Sports Buddy is not specifically for romantic purposes, but rather an opportunity for users to “match” with other active individuals, no matter their skill level. Some activities on the app include training, exercise, or even pick-up games. 

“No matter your level, or skills you match with people who are trying to get better at a sport or just enjoy working out and having fun,” Bah said. “It will revolutionize the sports world.” 

Addressing the hassle of returning ill-fitted clothes, Natasha Edwards ’22 believes app-based “Fitting Room” is the next revolutionary idea for all department stores. Centered on cutting down the volume of returns and increasing satisfied customers, the app would allow patrons to upload a picture of themselves and select clothes from different stores to “try on” without ever having to visit a fitting room.

Winning most original was Nina Thompson ’22 with her company “O-Mat.” O-Mat is a personalized custom mat that lines the refrigerator or pantry with sensors and scales for each specific product. Through personal programming, the O-Mat app would automatically send an alert to the phone when a product is getting low or empty. In addition, the app is designed to automatically add the product to the preferred grocery store’s online cart. 

A future fashion design major, Cher Wang’s ’22 business idea, “ReBrand,” focuses on sustainability in the clothing industry. The brand redesigns and renews unwanted clothing into unique, diverse clothing options. Wang won best overall presentation and plans to develop  ReBrand further throughout her college career.

“Ideas for new businesses or social ventures are like seeds we plant and nurture and protect, but once the plant is growing, it needs energy and proper exposure to the elements to thrive,” Fitzgerald said. “The Pitch Competition is a fun way for students to share and promote their ideas with the community while also practicing public speaking and the art of storytelling.”