Elevator pitch competition showcases innovation and entrepreneurial spirit

November 20, 2023

Two students in Quinnipiac Carl Hansen Student Center smiling and shaking hands

Quinnipiac’s innovative drive was evident as students across many disciplines went up against the timer at the 2023 Fall Quinnipiac Elevator Pitch Competition, hosted by the M&T Bank Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Given 90 seconds per pitch, 13 teams spotlighted a range of unique concepts in front of the judges and an appreciative crowd. The packed audience filled the Student Center Piazza on the Mount Carmel Campus to watch the pitches fly on November 15.

“Anyone can pitch their idea in 90 seconds, and the Fall Elevator Pitch Competition gives students across Quinnipiac University the chance to do just that,” said School of Business Dean Holly Raider. “Tonight, it was inspiring to see students from the School of Communications, the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, and the School of Business all presenting their ideas.”

The judges awarded a tie for first place, further defining the difficulty they faced in determining the top teams, said event host Patrice Luoma, director, M&T Bank Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

The three-member judging panel included Lori O’Brien, vice president of Accounts at Exposure, a web solution, creative, and digital marketing company. The Connecticut-based company was founded in 1996 by CEO Tom Barton, ‘95.

Judging panel member Timothy Burrus is an adjunct professor and academic coach at Quinnipiac.

Judging panel member Brett Amendola, ’91, is managing partner-wealth manager at Wooster Square Advisors of New Haven. Amendola is a member of Quinnipiac’s Board of Trustees. He also helped judge the Fall 2022 Elevator Pitch contest.

“It’s so exciting to see this place full, and to feel the energy,” said Amendola. “Everyone was prepared tonight, but some of these students were just at the top of their game, and really delivered and brought it home.”

First place recipient Ryan Holden, ’24, was recognized for his company focused on bringing the true art form of photography back to the industry, after being lost to digital processes like AI and social media.

“It’s not my first experience pitching,” said Holden. “I’ve done a lot of things with public speaking for the company, so I’m very familiar with the industry and how I want to present my company.”

It was the first pitch for first place recipient Willona Amoakoh, MS ’25. She was recognized for her pitch describing her children’s wholesome entertainment media production company, with the first production to be based on a children’s book she’s writing.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t I just speak my truth?’” Amoakoh said of her inaugural pitch. “It’s all part of the journey.”

Each of the night’s top 10 teams earned $200 in prize money to put toward their projects. Luoma thanked Exposure for contributing $800 to increase the number of top teams receiving the $200 award from six to 10. In addition, the night’s three Honorable Mention teams each received an award of $50.

Luoma said the competition started off with 31 team applications. She applauded each of the students involved in the 13 teams that completed the process and competed on November 15.

“You had a pretty good shot at some prize money; but more importantly, you had some good experience presenting your idea in front of an audience, and I think that’s what matters the most,” said Luoma. “Whatever your idea, you now have more people who know what you do, and who are willing to help you out with it. For the 13 teams who stuck with it tonight, it’s a big accomplishment.”

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