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90 Seconds to Success

Students hoping to secure start-up funds for their entrepreneurial ideas will have 90 seconds to sell their plans to a panel of judges this Wednesday, March 12, during the fifth annual Elevator Pitch Contest.

The event, coordinated by the Women and Financial Independence (WFI) program, awards cash prizes to the winners of the contest, which simulates a hypothetical scenario of succinctly pitching a business idea to a potential investor during a serendipitous encounter.

The Elevator Pitch Contest will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in Campus Center 103-104. The event is open to the Smith community.

The winner of the contest will receive a $100 cash prize offered by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, which encourages entrepreneurship among young people. The winner of Smith’s contest will also go on to represent the college at a regional 90-second pitch competition during the Grinspoon Foundation’s annual banquet on April 15, at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.

Smith’s representative will join contestants from 12 other schools in the region competing for cash prizes of $1,000 for first place, $750 for second place and $500 for third.

Elevator Pitch contestants in both competitions will be judged on the feasibility of their ideas and on the persuasiveness of their pitch. They are not allowed to use note cards and may not present a business they have already started. However, they will have complete freedom to make up technologies and funding sources that do not exist, as long as their ideas are plausible and well informed.

Last year’s winner of the Smith contest, Rebecca Freeman ’09, successfully pitched her idea for SipSafe, a drinking bottle that includes a purifying straw that can protect tourists against water-borne diseases. Freeman took third place at the Grinspoon Foundation competition.

The Grinspoon Foundation also funds the Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards, which provide grant funding to support student businesses. Several Smith students from a variety of majors have won Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards totaling more than $15,000.


3/10/08   By Eric Sean Weld
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