By Jessie Krehlik
The Wukich Center for Entrepreneurial Opportunities at Seton Hill University (SHU) welcomes all students to participate in an Elevator Pitch Competition in March. Twelve finalists will be selected at the preliminary completion on March 15. These twelve finalists will then face a different panel of judges on March 22, competing for a $1500 prize.
“The idea is you’re in an elevator with someone and you want to make a good impression,” said Douglas K. Nelson, director of the Wukich Center for Entrepreneurial Opportunities. According to Nelson, an effective pitch should last about 90 seconds, which is equivalent to an average trip in an elevator.
In order to participate in the preliminary round, students must attend the hour-long coaching session to be held on March 3.
During the workshop, a professional consultant will present a seminar on how to give a solid 90 second pitch, explaining the structure, giving examples and asking for student volunteers. The Wukich Center will also offer additional advice for the upcoming event.
Participants will be judged on several levels. According to Nelson, participants should exhibit strong energy and passion for their business proposal. There should be a logical flow in their presentation, and they should leave listeners fully informed. A successful pitch will convince others to join in on the idea. There is potential for creativity.
The preliminary round will be judged by SHU faculty, including Paul Mahady, director of undergraduate business programs, Jayne Husten and two other representatives from other disciplines of study. The judges will select 12 finalists based on the effectiveness of their pitches.
The 12 finalists will face a panel of outside business entrepreneurs. Although the finalists will present the same idea from the first round, this second round will give them the opportunity to revise for their new audience.
Of the 12 finalists, three will be selected overall to receive a portion of the $1500 prize. The first place winner will receive $750, the second $500 and the third $250.
“This is a great opportunity for students to fine tune their communication skills to deliver a succinct, persuasive pitch,” Nelson said, explaining that the event is not just a contest.
Although the “elevator pitch” focuses on selling a business proposal, these skills can be used in other fields as well. “When you’re meeting someone for the first time, first impressions matter a lot,” said Nelson. “In a job interview, the first handful of minutes is vital.”
Registration for the event closes March 3. Interested students can register on Griffin’s Lair, under Happenings.
The Wukich Center urges students of all disciplines to participate, because, according to Nelson, the skills honed in this competition are helpful to all individuals, whether they be interviewing for a new job, pitching a business proposal or simply meeting someone of importance for the first time.
The Wukich Center hopes to host elevator pitches annually as well as other types of entrepreneurial events in the future.