Idaho Pitch Fever
“Ready, Set, Pitch”
Idaho Pitch Fever has once again taken over the campus as new venture teams reflect on the results of the annual Idaho Pitch events. On Friday, April 29th at 5:00 p.m. the top floor of the Commons was filled with 45 teams and 150 UI students pitching their proposals to fifty judges looking for pain statements, prototypes, value propositions and revenue models, that would produce a viable path to launch. The winning teams took home $3,500 in prize money, sponsored once again this year by Boone County Distilling, a new startup founded by CBE Board member Gene Taft.
The competition got even more intense on Saturday with $30,000 on the line for the 18 teams that had made the first cut into the business plan portion of the Idaho Pitch. The remaining teams entered a second-round of pitching their full plans in twelve-minute formal presentations, followed by 8 minutes of questions from tough panels of judges. Three winners (and a “Wild Card team”) in one of three categories were selected:
- Innovative Ventures
- New Product Developments
- Entrepreneurial Ventures
These four teams were given 30 minutes to prepare a four-minute version of their presentations, followed by a final “Panic Pitch” round before the audience and full judging panel. The team judged “the best of the best” would receive an additional $4,000 in prize money.
Several University of Idaho new venture teams has successfully competed in the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge and the Northwest Entrepreneur Challenge this spring securing nearly $100,000 in seed capital thus far and were looking to add more funding at the Idaho Pitch.
“Pitch Or Die”
George Tanner, Director of UI’s highly successful Idaho Entrepreneurs program, believes that competition and pitching are essential to young entrepreneurs’ chances of success.
“It is often said entrepreneurs ‘pitch or die’. While maybe not quite that dramatic, at the College of Business and Economics, we believe in the art of the pitch and we are focused on experiential learning, learning by doing, in all of our activities. Nowhere is the experiential focus more pronounced than within Idaho Entrepreneurs. We want our students, not just entrepreneurship and business students, but all students on campus to be involved in entrepreneurial activities while they are here — and many are. Though we have a bias toward new ventures, that doesn’t just mean working on a startup. There are many ways to be entrepreneurial and we think whatever a student’s major, career aspirations, or future plans are, they are going to be engaged in business in some way. Developing an entrepreneur’s mindset and carrying that in their career toolbox as they leave with a diploma will give them an advantage over many other students.”
The Entrepreneurial Mindset
All companies value creativity, clear thinking, and innovation so one of the goals of Idaho Entrepreneurs is to instill that entrepreneurial mindset.
“Learning to come up with an idea, develop a value proposition and business model, and then how to pitch it to investors or customers is a critical skill for any entrepreneur or graduate”, according to Mario Reyes, Dean of the CBE. After grinding on business ideas, models, and pitches at the University of Idaho, some students will find their way to the Be The Entrepreneur Bootcamp™ to add to their skillsets and to network with the great speakers and mentors at BTE Bootcamp™. Tanner says “Each year, some of our students use the BTE Bootcamp ™ experience as a launchpad to start their companies on the Palouse. I see BTE Bootcamp™ as ‘graduate school’ for my young entrepreneurs. It is a great experience and Idaho Entrepreneurs and the College of Business and Economics is pleased to help out.”