2018 Annual Elevator Pitch Competition Recap


Upon return from Thanksgiving Break, the Conway Center hosted Smith’s annual Elevator Pitch Competition. The name of the competition comes from the classic “elevator pitch” — the ability to convey an idea to a potential investor and  convince them to take things to the next step in the time it takes for her/him to reach their floor. For Smith students interested in participating in the annual Draper Competition, participating in this contest is beneficial as they not only get a chance to practice their pitch but also get constructive feedback.

The rules: Contestants had 90-seconds to present a business, product, or service idea to their peers, local entrepreneurs and a panel of judges — Susannah Howe, Engineering Design Clinic Director; Rick Plaut, Entrepreneur-in-Residence; and Deborah Wijnhoven, Associate Director of Employee Relations at the Lazarus Center.

This year 13 brave students participated in the contest, with five awarded monetary prizes:

  • Best Ask - $100
    Isabelle Hodge '20 (Sociology), MarketSpace

  • Best "Green World" Ideas - $150 (each)
    Madeline Turner '21, Sprout
    Phoebe Little '20 (Government), Ugly Smoothies

  • Biggest Impact Idea - $200
    Zoleka Mosiah '20 (Engineering), Afrobotics

  • Best Pitch - $400
    Kelly Pien '20 (Economics), Safety Sister

Here’s Kelly Pien’s description of her experience:

Kelly Pien ‘20 pitching at the Annual Elevator Pitch Competition.

Kelly Pien ‘20 pitching at the Annual Elevator Pitch Competition.

Best Pitch* - Kelly Pien '20 (Economics), Venture: Safety Sister

Safety Sister is an app that helps women compare how safe geographic areas are using ratings generated through local crime statistics ("Yelp for location safety data").

CIEC: How did you come up with this idea?

When I visited Houston for the first time in September, I wanted to do some sightseeing and try some restaurants. However, since I was traveling alone for part of the trip, I wanted to try to stick to safer locations. My dad and I had a surprisingly difficult time figuring out which parts of Houston were safe for a woman exploring alone. An app that summarized crime statistics and displayed a single number in the form of a Yelp-like rating would have been helpful!

CIEC: Why did you decide to participate in the Annual Elevator Pitch Contest?

I participated in the Elevator Pitch Contest this year to practice public speaking and get feedback on the idea and pitch.

CIEC: What advice would you give to someone who has an idea, but is nervous about pitching?

View pitching, even in a competition setting, as just practice. You have many opportunities to pitch at Smith and possibly after Smith, so it's not the end of your entrepreneurial career if one doesn't go well.

*Kelly will represent Smith at the regional collegiate pitch competition sponsored by the Grinspoon Foundation in April.

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