Students participate in mock business pitches, receive advice from professionals

iChallenge on the Hilltop: Ideas for Innovation was hosted by the Bill Munday School of Business Nov. 17 in the Carter Auditorium. This annual event aims to get students in front of professionals who will help them fine-tune their business ideas and pitches. 

To participate, students signed up to give a two-minute elevator pitch describing their proposed business venture and were then asked questions and given feedback from the judges. Students may work independently or in pairs to pitch their ideas. 

“iChallenge on the Hilltop program is a series of co-curricular and extra-curricular experiential learning events that provides students with the opportunity to propose innovative solutions to challenges they’ve identified, and move their innovative ideas forward to the next stage,” Madison Wells, outreach coordinator for the Bill Munday School of Business, said. “This is an annual event that is open to all registered students at St. Edward’s under any major.”

The goal of this event was to get students thinking about their business ideas, learn how to present them to prospective investors, and network themselves to make new connections that could help them get their ideas off the ground. 

“The focus is on creative ideas that impact and improve the community,” Wells said. “These venture ideas can lead to creating a new for-profit business or non-profit entity, app, product or service – or even an innovative process and design for an existing operation. Successful participation in the Ideas for Innovation pitch competition results in an invitation to participate in the iChallenge Business Plan pitching competition that offers prize money for the top three competitors.”

There are first, second and third place winners, along with a GOAT award for most entrepreneurial spirit, which was introduced this year. This year, Shakib Wauyo and Emmanuel Epau came in first place, Casey Parker and Wayne Rudisill came in second and Fernando Lama earned third place. Shunji Watanabe was awarded the GOAT.

This year’s judges were Giancarlo Newsome, director of Center for Defense Innovation at Capital Factory, Jeremy Rashad Brown, founder of Brown Boy Productions and Jessica Martinsen ‘18, founder of Solar Energy Consultant. 

Aside from determining the winners, the judges were also there to help students workshop their pitches. They listened to the pitches, asked questions about the feasibility of these projects, provided  feedback about the best ways to begin these endeavors and how to make them more successful. The judges were also there to make connections with students in order to help them further in the long run. 

“As the Outreach Coordinator of the business school, I love watching students interact with our judges after the event ends,” Wells said. “I really try to create a community for our students that they can depend on. Our judges usually consist of our wonderful alumni, connections from Capital Factory (a co-working incubator space in downtown Austin) and entrepreneurship experts from the community. Through iChallenge, students learn how to build a business and meaningful relationships that last a lifetime.”

Students can use events like these to get a sense of the job field post-graduation.

Not only do events like these offer experiential learning, but they immerse students into the Austin community and give them the opportunity to network with entrepreneurs from the fast-paced business ecosystem,” Wells said. “iChallenge and other business events held on campus allow students to learn how to navigate making connections with professionals without having to travel into the city. The event also gives students resources they might not have otherwise to fund their passion project.”