More than 80 students presented their business ideas at the ninth annual 3-2-1 Quick Pitch on Friday, November 10. Held at the West Memorial Stadium Club Level Suites, the event hosted by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Center for Entrepreneurship provided the opportunity for high school and college students to pitch their idea to a panel of judges in three minutes.
Twenty-one students won part of a $7,000 prize, and also gained insight and feedback from the judges. Dr. Sam Nelson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and assistant professor of practice of management, explained how the students also gain experience and connections.
“The competition allows students to pitch an idea to a group of professionals in a unique setting. It requires them to think on their feet and get outside their comfort zone. The whole situation turns into a win-win for the participants. If they win, they can walk away with $333.33, but even if they don’t, they still get valuable feedback from the judges on how to advance their idea. It also enables them to expand their network,” he said.
Frances Munro, a sophomore actuarial science major from Lincoln, Nebraska, spoke about competing in the event. She pitched Greek Eats, a third-party catering service for Greek houses on campus. The idea came to her in the Clifton Builder class, Building Life for Impact.
“I enjoyed getting to interact with entrepreneurs who have been out there and had several successful business ventures. Listening to their feedback and their thoughts on how our ideas can grow and how we can use their experiences to build upon our own ideas are things I can benefit from,” said Munro. “I definitely recommend anyone to do it. It isn’t as intense and intimidating as it sounds to pitch your business idea. The judges were all awesome to speak with and wanted to help us grow.”
At the event’s award ceremony, the Center for Entrepreneurship recognized competition winners and honored four entrepreneurs for their innovation, success and entrepreneurial spirit. The honorees included:
- Nebraska Entrepreneurship Advocate Award – Dan Hoffman, chief executive officer at Invest Nebraska, has been actively involved in building the support ecosystem for new Nebraska enterprises for more than seven years, working with a variety of public and private sector partners. Hoffman also engages in educating around entrepreneurship through teaching and mentoring at the university and the College of Business.
- Start-Up Executive Award – John Hogan, chief development officer at Home Instead Senior Care, leads a team focused on new franchise sales, franchise transfer sales and growth optimization within the network. He served as franchise training manager, vice president of operations and vice president for training and technology.
- New Company Entrepreneur Award – Vishal Singh, founder and chief executive officer of Quantified Ag, helps improve the beef supply by providing feedlot workers with the tools to identify sick animals sooner and more accurately. Prior to focusing full-time on the company, he worked at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln within the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- Distinguished Entrepreneur Award – Matthew Wegener, president and chief executive officer of ISoft Data Systems, co-founder of Turbine Flats Project and president of Presage Analytics, has been a fixture in the Lincoln entrepreneurship scene since 2001. ISoft Data Systems opened its doors to build a community with other early stage and start-up businesses. As one of the original council members, he also helped found Lincoln’s Young Professionals Group.
Wegener, a judge and an honoree, talked about the benefits of 3-2-1 Quick Pitch. He also gave words of encouragement to business students looking to start something of their own.
“I really appreciate the concept of taking students from this ideation phase and giving them feedback from experts. Let’s throw out all the financial calculations and just work on the elevator pitch as that becomes really useful later on. You need to have a honed elevator pitch at any networking environment. It creates an opportunity for you to communicate to people in a succinct manner so you can take your ideas to the next step. Students need to have an understanding about what they are trying to accomplish. You get that captured in these pitches,” he said. “Entrepreneurship can be one of the most challenging choices you can make career wise in your life. It can also be one of the most rewarding experiences. You have many moments when it seems like one huge goal stays just out of reach. Keep building, keep growing and improve your processes and your product. You get this sense of satisfaction from it all.”
The 3-2-1 Quick Pitch winning competitors included:
High School Room 1
- Ben Blumenthal, junior from Millard West High School, Omaha, Nebraska
- Max Cvitanov, senior from Millard Academy, Omaha
- Abriel Bonnstetter, junior from Millard South High School, Omaha, Nebraska
High School Room 2
- Ryan Nyffeler, junior from Millard West High School, Omaha
- Jackson Hazen, junior from Millard West High School, Omaha
- Catelyn Nevel, senior from Millard Academy, Omaha
- Justin Collier, senior computer science major from Lincoln, Nebraska
- Matthew Brugger, junior applied science major from Albion, Nebraska
- Brady Conant, sophomore supply chain management major from Hastings, Nebraska
- Thaddeus Fonck, senior management (entrepreneurship and innovation) and supply chain management major from Lincoln, Nebraska
- Austin Hofeling, sophomore finance major from Lincoln
- Erin Hamel, doctoral student in child development/early childhood education from Lincoln
- Brooke Lehman, senior advertising and public relations major from Lincoln
- Joshua Jones, junior economics and computer science major from Omaha
- Frances Munro, sophomore actuarial science major from Lincoln
- Katie O’Neil, junior advertising and public relations major from Dunbar, Nebraska
- Jack Rowen, freshman software engineering major from Lincoln
- Callie Pancoe, sophomore management major from Bellevue, Nebraska
- Rohan Thakker, freshman computer science major from Omaha
- Lizz Whitacre, senior management (entrepreneurship and innovation) and pre-vet major from Eden Prairie, Minnesota
- Ben Stephens, junior management major from Norfolk, Nebraska
To learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship, visit: http://business.unl.edu/entrepreneurship