Three minutes to pitch and win

The second annual Pitch George contest was held Saturday in Duques Hall, giving GW students the opportunity to pitch original business proposals in the hopes of winning a $2,000 cash prize.

A total of 60 individuals among the graduate and undergraduate tiers participated, with some working as partners. After six finalists were selected from each tier, they were given three minutes to pitch their ideas to a small group of judges.

“It has been eye-opening, fascinating and energizing to see the new ways people are trying to serve the needs of others,” judge Scott Talan, a professor at GW, said. “I’ve definitely seen some ideas that students should start thinking about moving ahead [with] while still in school.”

The final pitch took place in the sixth floor elevators, reflecting the idea of an “elevator pitch” in which the contestant should be able to explain their proposal in the time it takes to ride an elevator.

Ivan Tarabishy, a candidate for a master’s in business administration who helped organize the event, said the event helps students apply their skills in a more realistic setting.

“[Students] are not really conditioned to pitch in three minutes in front of other people who aren’t professors or students,” he said. “The comfort zone is taken away.”

Judges included not only GW faculty, but also members of the Colonial Entrepreneurs, a GW alumni group focused on networking and facilitating entrepreneurial incentives with the motto “help each other exceed, or fail quickly.”

DJ Saul, a 2008 alumnus of the Elliott School and member of Colonial Entrepreneurs, said judging was based on each student’s “passion about the idea, market research, value proposition, and overall knowledge of their service.” Exhibiting passion and individuality, Tarabishy agreed, was key to advancing in the competition.

“I think a lot of people today forget it’s not about size 12 Times New Roman font and five pages double-spaced,” Tarabishy said. “They need the judges to see who they are as a person, not just the idea.”

First place winners in the graduate tier were Lauryn Sargent and Meghan Salas-Atwell, who attributed some of their success to the personal attachment to their business plan concerning life documentation services and products.

“This is an idea I’m very passionate about. I really believe in my vision,” Sargent said. “Now we can use this [prize] to enhance our products, which will serve as a marketing tool.”

The other graduate winners were Vergil Cabasco, second place, and Patrick Donnelly,third place. The undergraduate winners were Thaniil Theoharis, first place, Andrew Thal, second place, and Patricia Reville, third place.

Reville said presenting her own ideas, rather than course material in a classroom, helped her stay passionate about the competition.

“It is definitely more of your baby. You want to protect it and present it well. It’s representing you,” she said.

Other than naming winners for the competition, the event also helped enable networking and community-building.

“It definitely felt more collaborative than competitive,” Reville said.

The Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence will hold a similar event – the GW Business Plan Competition – next semester; the first prize winner receives $20,000.

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