Ichabods pitch winning ideas

Ryan Thompson

Washburn School of Business gave promising students a shot with Washburn Pitch Competition finals Oct. 16 at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center

Over 100 students competed in the two stage competition. The first stage, the knockout round, divides participants into four rooms. Competitors have three minutes to deliver their pitch to three judges. The winner of each room becomes one of the finalists.

In the second stage, competitors presented their business ideas to the judges in ten minutes. Afterward, the judges questioned the finalists on their pitches.

“They don’t have to have everything figured out yet,” said David Price, associate professor of marketing. “We’re just getting students excited about thinking about new products, new services for businesses.”

Each of the finalists received a cash prize, increasing in amount from fourth to first place. Christina Foreman and Rachel Darey, both seniors, came in fourth with a foot scanner for fitting ballet shoes.

Lindsey Jones, a Washburn Tech student, came in third with a canine food truck.

Nathan Burkholder, senior management major, took second with a retractable alternating tread ladder.

“So many people have these little rinky-dinky ladders going up into their attic and it’s nearly impossible to carry stuff up them,” Burkholder said.

Connor England, senior entrepreneurship and economics double major, and Mark Feuerborn, junior mass media major, won the first place prize with Allspice, a spice rack that remembers recipes and dispenses exact measurements of spices.

The Pitch Competition leads into the Business Plan Competition in spring. It requires competitors to write up 25 to 30 page formal document detailing every part of their business and finances.

In spring, the School of Business also awards the Student Business Accelerator Fund, which is provided primarily from Washburn alumni who have become successful business owners themselves. The purpose of this fund is to help students get a good business idea off the ground.

“It’s real difficult to get that first seed funding,” Price said. “Banks won’t give it to you. Investors aren’t going to do it, because you’re not really ready. So there’s that gap there between ‘hey I got a good idea on paper, but I can’t even make a prototype.’ [SBAF is] designed to fill that gap where they can get themselves investment ready.”

The competitions are part of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, which is an emphasis of the business major. This is the program’s third year and it receives sponsorship from GO Topeka, an economic development organization based in Topeka.

“They came on board the first year with ten or twelve thousand dollars and it’s increased every year,” Price said.

Burkholder said he is grateful for the opportunity provided by the entrepreneurship program..

“I’m glad I got to experience it,” Burkholder said. “I would like to add, that I think it’s pretty stunning and amazing what I see all the other people do, my competitors. Everyday that I show up to class, I’m just really amazed by everything that people are doing.”