Quick Pitch Competition Turns Students Into 60-Second Entrepreneurs

Mindi Schlautman generated laughter from a crowded room of onlookers and even more importantly, from the five judges who were listening intently to her new business idea.

First she showed a photo of a heaping pile of dirty laundry. Then she showed a photo of a treadmill. Finally she showed the photo that caused the laughter: a treadmill with laundry draped over it.

“Oftentimes, you get this mix,” she said of her final Powerpoint slide. “My idea will save time, save energy, and shrink waistlines.”

Schlautman’s business proposal was part of Nebraska Wesleyan University’s first Quick Pitch Competition.

The Quick Pitch competition gave NWU students representing a variety of academic fields the opportunity to present an idea for a new business, product or application to an experienced panel of entrepreneurs and business leaders. Students had 60 seconds to demonstrate their idea.

Schlautman’s idea for Laundrofit would provide a facility for fitness gurus to multitask and do their laundry while at the gym.

“And at some point, the electricity generated from the treadmills and ellipticals could run the washers and dryers,” said the junior from Clarkson, Neb.

The judges liked her idea and awarded her a third place $150 cash prize.

The Quick Pitch Competition was held during the University’s fourth annual Business Summit. The event provides NWU students the opportunity to learn from prominent business leaders’ wisdom and experience through a series of open forum question and answer sessions. Topics ranged from effective business models, strategic planning, finances, leadership, and women entrepreneurs.

The Quick Pitch Competition was added for the first time this year.

Students’ pitches included peanut butter in a can (“stop tiring your muscles scraping peanut butter from a jar, they demanded.), a healthy energy drink, organic fast food, and a database that checks the quality of landlords.

“This has let me see that NWU is interested in making its students’ ideas known to business leaders,” said senior Rebecca Chavez, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Mexico.

Chavez, admitted she was nervous to go before the panel of judges and introduce the idea of a campus car rental service for students who do not have their own vehicles.

“At the same time, I was excited at the prospect of it becoming real,” she said. “It would be a great accomplishment to help other students.”

In the end, it was sophomore Jami Watts’ idea for a temporary social media blocker that won the judges’ approval. Watts pitched the idea as a way to help eliminate distractions, particularly during study time.

“Students could select the times they want the block to halt visits to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest,” she said.

Her first-place pitch garnered her a new Ipad.

“They all did great,” said Bill Eckstrom, founder and president of EcSell Institute, who served as a Quick Pitch judge. “To get up in front of people they don’t know and sell us an idea in 60 seconds, that takes courage.”

“They were unbelievable,” Eckstrom continued. “I think we have some entrepreneurs here.”

Quick Pitch

What a great idea! I am impressed with the few I saw in the example above. Good for NWU!

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Junior Ryan Coufal introduces a healthy energy drink to the Quick Pitch Competition judges.
Quick Pitch Competition judges listen closely to students' 60-second business ideas.
Senior Rebecca Chavez said even though she was nervous, she appreciated the opportunity to pitch her idea to business leaders.
Quick Pitch judges discuss the competition results.