NWU Makes Entrepreneurship Its Business

Cody Eiler — a business administration major and Academic All-American in football — spent some time recently perfecting his pitch.

On March 1, he was among 20 other NWU students who went before a panel of company presidents and CEOs and gave an elevator speech on a product he feels people can’t turn down.

Eiler, a senior from O’Neill, introduced a salad bowl with a built-in dressing dispenser. The dispenser will hold, measure, and disperse dressing across a salad.

“My group and I decided that with the fast-pace lifestyle that most people live in, it would be very beneficial,” said Eiler. “It would be made in all shapes and sizes and would be very handy for a business person, teacher, or child to take to the workplace or school.”

Students participating in the Quick Pitch Competition had just 90 seconds to sell their product pitch. 

The Quick Pitch Competition was part of the university’s fifth annual Business Summit, which brings to campus presidents and CEOs of businesses from across the country. This year, 39 business leaders from all walks — investment companies, law firms, banks, jewelry companies, sportswear businesses, marketing agencies, and health clubs — shared their experiences and advice with NWU undergraduates.

James Perry, assistant professor of professional studies, started the summit as a way to motivate students and get them thinking about their future business careers. The summit provides another opportunity to infuse the university’s liberal arts curriculum with entrepreneurial values.

“The quick pitch contest is a great way to showcase one‘s public speaking skills and sales ability,” said senior business administration major Ashton Honnor. 

Students from a wide variety of academic majors took part in this year’s event, presenting ideas ranging from hair removal products to delivery companies to nutritional supplements.

This year's winner was junior Richard Durand. His pitch for a third party employee evaluation for retail and specialty shops earned him a new IPad and $100. Durand said his idea would result in better customer service and product knowledge for customers. Second place went to senior Andee Christensen who pitched a "Cone of Silence" to use when earphones are not enough to shut off disruptive noise. Third place went to first-year student Blake Whitney, who pitched the idea of a website where students could buy or sell class notes and study guides. Students would be able to see a portion of the notes and guides prior to checkout to assure quality materials.

“I think with the time limit you are given it really makes you focus on the important topics,” Eiler said of the competition. “This is the same with life, as well. Sometimes you only have a minute or two to make that first good impression on someone. This is a great learning activity for the real world.”

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The annual Business Summit brings together business leaders and NWU undergraduates.
Business leaders from across the country share experiences and advice.
In its 2nd year, the Quick Pitch Competition gives students 90 seconds to share a business idea with a panel of judges.