Brave Pitch showcases students’ business innovation

Entrepreneur students had the chance to be brave and pitch an idea that could jumpstart their careers.

Bradley’s Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation hosted the Brave Pitch Competition on Wednesday night where students presented their innovative proposal to a panel of judges in three minutes or less.

The first place winner from both the graduate and undergraduate categories received a prize of $250 in cash and an all-expense paid trip to represent Bradley in the Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization National Elevator Pitch Competition.

The first place undergraduate winner, Ivan Gonzalez-Gimenez, presented his idea for Marble Express Company and the opportunity to invest time and resources into an international market for marble, hand-crafted gifts.

“I recently traveled abroad to India and spent some time in the merchants’ market,” he said. “When I saw these beautiful marble pieces for only $500, I couldn’t pass [the opportunity] up. This kind of intricate artwork must have taken weeks to make and would be sold for so much more in North America than it was sold for in India. I knew I wanted to help these people to sell them overseas.”

Gonzalez-Gimenez said he hopes to return to India this summer to further research the market and to jumpstart his idea.

“I’m talking to a supplier, and I have a web designer,” he said. “As far as the prize money tonight, I am going to save it and wait to spend it to solidify my ecommerce business.”

Ellen Keenan, a business systems analyst in the controller’s office, and a current MBA student, pitched a product called the Cool Seat Cooler after she was inspired by hot weather last summer.

“It is essentially a cooler that is also a comfortable chair,” she said. “A small fan motor blows air up around the ice in the cooler and up your back to cool you on a hot day. It will have cup holders, customization and maybe even an umbrella.”

Keenan said she and her brother, husband and a fellow MBA student have already created a rough prototype, business plan drafts and an engineer drawing mock-up.

“We hope to have it going by the spring of 2014,” she said. “It really is exciting.”

Other participants pitched ideas along with the first prize winners, ranging from a smartphone case that charged and cooled the phone via a solar panel, to a musical exchange company that created an international network of music sharing.

“I really liked the cell phone idea,” said sophomore finance major Nick Farinn. “A lot of these students have great ideas. They identified existing needs, and now they just need to build off their ideas and turn them into a better way to capitalize on the idea.”

Sophomore health science major Lexie Brasen said she was amazed by the solutions students proposed to the panel.

“I loved the international music exchange idea,” Brasen said. “We forget how sometimes the United States is in its own little bubble. Culturally, it’s a great thought and it makes so much sense.”

Ken Klotz, the director of programs for the Turner School and the event’s emcee, commended the students for their creativity and innovative ways of thinking during the event.

“You’ve really done an outstanding job,” he said. “Each of you brought something to the table to be proud of. You’re taking a risk to be successful and that’s a great entrepreneur.”