Final lineup set for Purdue’s 5th annual elevator pitch competition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Successfully pitch your unique business idea to a panel of judges, and you could earn a quick $1,000 in just two minutes.

That’s the goal of the nearly 40 participants in the fifth annual Purdue University Elevator Pitch Competition, slated for 2-5 p.m. Friday (April 8) at Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 121.

Twenty-nine undergraduate students are set to compete in the undergraduate category, and another 16 participants are registered in the division open to faculty members, graduate students and entrepreneurs from Purdue Research Park companies. The annual contest is organized by Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.

“This fun, high-energy competition showcases the breadth of business ventures in the minds of students and entrepreneurs affiliated with Purdue University,” said Nathalie Duval-Couetil, director of Purdue’s entrepreneurship and innovation program and associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. “And once again, the turnout has been so strong that we have a waiting list for participants wanting to put their best pitch forward to our panel of distinguished judges.”

Winners in each category receive prizes of $1,000 for first place, $500 for second and $250 for third. A $500 prize also will go to the most entertaining pitch in each category as part of a new award this year. All participants receive T-shirts for competing.

Lead sponsors are Otis Elevator Co. and Bingham McHale LLP, a law firm with offices in Indianapolis, Jasper and Vincennes. Otis Elevator is marking its fifth year of support for the competition.

The annual contest, themed “Give Us Your Best Shot” this year, gives each participant two minutes to describe a business venture to judges, highlighting their product or service, their competitive advantage, the market and its size, and plans to make the business profitable. Three minutes are allotted for follow-up questions from the judges.

Posing as venture capitalists and interacting with participants will be Dave Kitchell, a Purdue graduate, columnist and teacher who has won 60 state and national journalism awards; and Mike Cassidy, an instructor for the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and a Purdue graduate who launched Fortress Strategy Group in 2007.

Judges are John Daniluck, a partner at Bingham McHale; Ben Wehner, new equipment account manager for Otis Elevator; Libby Hart-Wells, assistant vice president and director for the Office of Technology Commercialization at the Purdue Research Foundation; Oscar Moralez, managing director and co-founder of StepStone Business Partners; Michael Cloran, partner at venture development firm Developertown; and former Purdue elevator pitch winner Rush Bartlett, a Purdue doctoral student in biomedical engineering and co-founder of biomedical device company LyoGo.

Master of ceremonies is Purdue alum Mac McDaniel, who was in the first cohort of students to complete the Purdue certificate in entrepreneurship program. He co-founder of Inleva Group LLC where he serves as a software consultant and is currently obtaining a JD/MBA at Indiana University.

The Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program has enrolled more than 2,800 undergraduate students since it began in 2005. Similar to a minor, students complete a series of five courses or experiential learning programs to earn the certificate.

Housed in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and led by the Office of the Provost, the program is available to Purdue undergraduate students in all majors. Its purpose is to make entrepreneurship an accessible career option by providing students with the skills and knowledge required to launch new business ventures.

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