Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Young Entrepreneurs Pitch Ideas ; Washburn Students Get Three Minutes to Sell Judges on Plan

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Young Entrepreneurs Pitch Ideas ; Washburn Students Get Three Minutes to Sell Judges on Plan

Article excerpt

Pitching a new business idea can be difficult, but having only three minutes to lure complete strangers to invest in the idea can be a real challenge.

But 85 students at Washburn University stepped up to that challenge Thursday afternoon during the inaugural Pitch Competition held at the Memorial Union.

Students from various majors gave their best elevator-style pitches to panels of local business professionals for a chance to move on to the final round and a $12,000 prize provided by Go Topeka.

David Price, an assistant professor in marketing at the university, said the event was a part of a new major offered at the school.

"We're launching a new major here at the school of business -- it's the entrepreneurship and innovation major -- and we've partnered with Go Topeka to put on this competition to increase and promote entrepreneurship across campus," he said.

Price said this was a challenge because students needed to be clear and get the point across to the judges.

"It sounds easy, three minutes, but it's very difficult to fit all the information in," Price said.

The students, who presented in teams, pairs or individually, showcased ideas ranging from mobile phone applications to haunted houses.

But one student pitched an idea so small, it was big.

Matt Spezia, a freshman in general business, was the second person to present in one of two rooms at the union. He stood alone in front of the room and told the judges his idea dealt with nanotechnology and finding a cure for cancer.

"If you look at a cancerous cell, all it is is a mutated protein. So if you can take that more complex protein and program a robot to break it down to its base structures, it is basically like taking apart a LEGO structure," he said.

Spezia said he used part of his senior high school debate platform to come up with the idea. …

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