Up and coming entrepreneurs win funds at the Innovation Challenge: The Minute Pitch

Participants were allowed to give a one-minute pitch for the chance to win money and support for their idea


Collegian File Photo

By Leigh Appelstein, Collegian Correspondent

The Innovation Challenge held its first event, “The Minute Pitch,” on Wednesday, giving undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni the opportunity to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to judges.

The Innovation Challenge is a “four-part cross-campus entrepreneurship competition that launches promising ventures to the next levels of startup,” according to the Isenberg School of Management website.

Out of 40 applications, 26 entrepreneurs each had one minute to present their unique product or business plan to six judges in the first round of the event. The competition continued as the top five were chosen to present a second time for two minutes for the chance to be granted equity-free funding to jumpstart their business.

Sophomore economics major Alvin He said, “The Minute Pitch was an amazing opportunity getting experience pitching in front of over a hundred people and gave the chance to meet and network with so many like-minded entrepreneurs.”

Freshman engineering major Connor MacFarlane came in first place and won the audience choice with his pitch for Improved Insulin Delivery.  MacFarlane designed a new solution for administering insulin to people diagnosed with diabetes. MacFarlane not only won $1250 to take his product to the next level but was also able to meet with a mentor during the event and gain valuable advice.

In second place, winning $750, came senior marketing major Elijah Mishkind with his pitch for a workout tracker app, IRON Weightlift Tracker, that has already exhibited success on the Apple app store. Food and health science doctoral candidate Mitchell Culler came in third place with his product Snack Shapes, LLC, winning $500.

Jean Coyle, CEO at Carl Fisher Company, judged the event for the first time this year and was impressed with the professionalism and engagement of the participants.

“This event is an amazing opportunity for these future entrepreneurs to prepare for life by building communication and presentation skills,” said Coyle.  “Presenting for only one minute forces presenters to be succinct in presenting a problem, solution, who will buy your product, etc.”

People participated for different reasons, whether it be to get advice from mentors for an idea or to get funding for a pre-existing business. Freshman Isenberg undergraduate Amanda Lee participated in the competition because she had an idea for “Kombucha Krate” and wanted entrepreneurship experience as well as to potentially get advice from successful professionals in the field.  In contrast, Culler attended the event, after getting funding from the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship through the Innovation Challenge last year, to get additional funds to improve on his current business model.

The pitches spanned from apps to get students connected with events in their community like MassBoard, to a product that tells you whether your food is spoiled like Ripe. The participants showed their commitment to creativity, sustainability, and preparation as the presentations were rehearsed, and many products had an element of sustainability and uniqueness.

“I was impressed that a lot of the pitches has to do with sustainability,” Lee said. “It’s inspiring how many up and coming entrepreneurs are really concerned about the future.”

Leigh Appelstein can be reached at [email protected]