December 6, 2011
WOOSTER, Ohio — From recycled t-shirts to comic textbooks, The College of Wooster Center for Entrepreneurship’s (C4E) third annual “Pitchoff” produced a variety of creative — and sometimes off-the-wall — ideas. The festive event had a carnival-like atmosphere, complete with music, hot dogs, soda, and even a pitchman in the person of C4E director James Levin, who welcomed contestants, judges, and observers with the enthusiasm of a barker in the midway.
John Jewell, visiting assistant professor of psychology and an advisor to the Center for Entrepreneurship, served as emcee, providing entertainment while ensuring that none of the finalists exceeded their three-minute presentation limit or their one-minute response to questions from the audience. Jake Briggs’ talented “Green Bean Recipe” trio provided the music as well as the subtle reminders to the presenters that their time was just about up.
A panel of judges, consisting of five faculty, three community members, and one student, observed the presentations and deliberated on their merit. Cash prizes were awarded in four categories of entrepreneurship: (1) campus, (2) general, (3) social, and (4) developed. In addition, those in attendance were invited to text their vote for the idea they liked best.
Among the ingenious proposals were Bianca Rocco’s “Rent-A-Pot” and Jola Pham’s “Sustainable Dance Floor,” which placed first and second, respectively, in the category of campus entrepreneurship. Rocco’s idea would provide 24-hour rental service of pots, pans and other kitchen utensils for students who want to cook meals in their residence hall. Pham’s proposal would produce energy through an electrical current known as piezoelectricity, which is a by-product of the pressure generated by the dancers on the floor tiles.
Finishing first in the category of general entrepreneurship was Edmund Shi’s “Comic Textbook,” which proposed to make learning easier by using illustrations to represent difficult scientific concepts. Shi’s well-conceived presentation concluded with his own testimonial — a 96 percent on his most recent biology exam.
The winner of the social entrepreneurship competition was the team of Kemal Ramic, Muhammad Daud, Tamour Ishraq, and Saif Ahmad, who came up with “Chnooze It,” a philanthropic alarm clock that would use cloud-source technology to direct small donations to selected charities every time a student hits the snooze button on the alarm clock.
Rounding out the winners were Hannah Dauber, Sara Tebeau, and Tin Nguyen, who put their heads together to come up with “WOOSH,” an after-school program run by College of Wooster students that would promote fitness among young people.
“The pitchoff provided an opportunity for students to present their ideas in a focused way,” said Levin. “It demanded that they organize their thoughts, rehearse their presentations, and express something that it is quite compelling.
“I was really delighted that those presenting came from a wide range of majors and class years,” he added. “I think it shows that entrepreneurial thinking is vibrant across campus.”
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