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Queens University Gives Undergrad Entrepreneurs a Platform to Pitch

Left to right, runners-up Natali Betabdishoo, Michael Gonzalez, and Mia Rose Voss of Bare, winner Tim Dixon of CF Warriors, and runner up Taylor Leigh Robinson of Lit-A-Viz. Photo by Paige Connelly.

Pitching ideas in a cohesive and persuasive way is a vital skill for any entrepreneur seeking interest in their company. Queens University gave students a chance to do just that.

On March 28, dozens of students gathered to test their business-pitching skills at Queens’ inaugural Pitch Competition. Twelve teams turned out to compete. 

The Idea

The event was an opportunity students from every degree background to compete for $5,000 in prize money. Teams or individuals could offer pitches, and they had to include business ideas with real implementation ability. However, the ideas could be from all sides of the business spectrum.

At the event, competitors took high-pressure to a whole new level by pitching at the same time as others.

First, organizers divided the room into three sections, where 12 teams (four in each section) pitched consecutively for a small audience and three judges. Second, from those 12, judges narrowed them down to three finalists to do a final pitch in front of the entire audience and full judging panel.

The Pitches

Business ideas ranged from jersey resale websites to travel-inspired community centers. Many students even contacted investors and had realistic production-cost and timeline estimates. As a result, the competition was strong. 

The three finalists were senior Tim Dixon with his educational gaming app “CF Warriors,” designed for children with Cystic Fibrosis; seniors Mia Rose Voss and Natali Betabdishoo and junior Michael Gonzalez with their build-your-own skincare line called Bare; and junior Taylor Leigh Robinson with her educational art history-lesson plans called Lit-A-Viz.

Left to right, runners-up Natali Betabdishoo, Michael Gonzalez, and Mia Rose Voss of Bare, winner Tim Dixon of CF Warriors, and runner up Taylor Leigh Robinson of Lit-A-Viz. Photo by Paige Connelly.

The Winner: An App for Education

In the end, judges chose Dixon’s app, while the other two teams tied for runners-up. 

“It feels incredible, just the validation that the idea is a good one,” Dixon said.

Dixon’s daughter, Emma, has Cystic Fibrosis (CF) – a progressive, genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs. He said making the app was something he’s deeply passionate about. As a result, he sees the competition as more than just a win for his app. 

“It’s something that, because it’s so personal to me, that makes it even more special,” he said, “because it is not just something that affects my daughter, it is my daughter, because she’s the character in the game.”

The game features an avatar named Emma, who through several different game-play modes, helps children to learn about the way CF affects their body. 

“It’s something I feel like, I can take this back, and this is for the two of us,” Dixon said. “So this win is for my compass, and in a larger way, for the entire CF community.”

Helping Students

Louis Forman of Enventys Partners, and an organizer for the event, said the University plans to have a pitch competition every year, and he hopes they’ll keep getting bigger.

“Overall, I’m really pleased with the results,” Forman said. “It far-exceeded our expectations to have twelve teams, to have a standing-room only audience, I think it was a great first year, and next year we’ll be even better.”

The vision, he said, started with wanting to give undergrads a platform and realistic practice. So, over the past few months, members of the University and the community have mentored students by helping them with their pitches. 

“Getting in front of your classmates, getting in front of your teachers,” Forman said, “and getting in front of the public and actually pitching your idea just makes all of them more self confident.”