RENO, Nev. - The Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship, a program of The College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno, held its annual Pack Pitch competition this semester. The event gives University students the opportunity to present innovative ideas for launching a new business - in hopes of winning a $10,000 cash prize, available through the generosity of the event's platinum sponsor, Holland & Hart. The $10,000 prize was allocated evenly between teams who won. Individual students won $1,000 and teams won $2,000. The competition was also the first in a series of entrepreneurship competitions at the college, leading up to spring's Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition.
The Pack Pitch was composed of two rounds. The first round, which required students to present their entrepreneurial ideas in just 30 seconds. From the initial pool of 35 students, ten finalists were selected to compete in the Pack Pitch finale.
At the finals, students presented to a panel of four judges: Robert Goldberg, Jen Gurecki, Chris Howard, and Thomas Burnham.
Goldberg is a seasoned entrepreneur, technology leader and investor with more than 30 years of experience. He is currently the managing partner at GTG Capital Partners, and a Venture Partner at Raptor Ventures, an early stage venture and private equity investor.
Gurecki specializes in designing creative approaches to building resilient communities and cultivating female leadership. She is the co-founder and CEO of Coalition Snow, the world's first women's ski and snowboard company, as well as founder of Zawadisha, a social enterprise that provides small loans for renewable energy and water products to women living in rural Kenya.
Howard is the executive director of The Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship and is also a faculty member, overseeing entrepreneurship academic curriculum in The College of Business at the University. He is also the current CEO and Principal of NorthStar Investors.
Burnham is an assistant professor of marketing at the University who has won the "Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science" for his research in cost change and its effects on consumer loyalty.
A number of local entrepreneurs interested in mentoring student entrepreneurs were also present to listen to the presentations as well as meet with the students following the competition.
In the finals, students had three minutes to present their "basic concept." This concept was based upon an original idea by the student. The finalists were judged on their description of the idea: the value proposition, and how their idea could create passion among developers, investors and other stakeholders. Following the presentation, each student participated in a question and answer session lead by the Pack Pitch judges and local mentors in the audience.
The winners and recipients of the awards included:
- Monica Perera's original entrepreneur idea was "Meeks and Maddie," a line of matching adult and child outfits, offering fashionable and affordable prices to mothers.
- Manny Beck created "Millennial Mentors," which provides a prudent transition between the educational and professional worlds.
- Christopher David Ponton postulated "The Nevada Motorsport project," a safe, affordable, sustainable, local venue for motorsports and other events in the Reno/Sparks community.
- Jeff Sutich's original idea was "Sutich LLC," an online custom suit business with a phased lean startup strategy, targeting custom made items for both men and women.
- Megan Price created "FitnesSpiral," a unique, full body, portable exercise machine enabled by the technology already in your pocket and motivated by other users.
- Jean-Yves Diei's idea was called "Save a Plant," an application that, through taking photo of plants, allows plant owner to find information about keeping their plants alive in their respective locations.
- Kevin Vigallon hypothesized a new type of shoe called "Dynamos." Dynamos shoes convert energy generated in steps into electricity to charge cell phones.
In total, four prizes of $1,000 were given out to individual students, and three awards of $2,000 were given to teams.
The Songtag Entrepreneurship Competition will be taking place again this spring. Students interested must have their Intent to Compete in by Friday, Dec. 15. More information is available at the Songtag website.