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90-Sec. Success

 

In business, time is money. And thanks to Ohio Northern University’s Entrepreneurship Poster/Pitch Competition, students are learning how much each second is worth.

The Poster/Pitch competition is held each quarter in The James F. Dicke College of Business Administration’s Dicke Forum, and prepares students for a career in business by helping them develop the skills needed to successfully bring a new product to market.

The event is actually two competitions, one for a 90-second sales pitch—or elevator speech, as it is sometimes called—and a poster presentation, which provides more detailed information about the new product or service.

The pitch is intended to mimic those brief real-world instances, such as an elevator ride or shared taxi, when an entrepreneur may have access to a venture capitalist or investor. In those few precious seconds, an entrepreneur must communicate who he or she is, what the idea is, and most importantly how the idea will make the venture capitalist money.

“Business lenders and venture capitalists want to know what’s in it for them,” said assistant professor of entrepreneurship Dr. Tammy Schakett. “And they want to hear it in a vocabulary they understand. They want to know about profits, return on investment, feasibility, target audiences, competition and marketing.”

Senior Adam Yunker, a marketing major from Holland, Ohio won the fall quarter pitch competition and shared first place in the poster competition, with his idea for a toothbrush cleaning system he calls the BrushDoc. His idea originated in his New Product Development course when his professor asked the class to identify things they encounter in everyday life that annoy them.

“One of the things that really bugs me is the idea of a dirty toothbrush. The way it never gets clean and always sits out exposed to germs, yet we still put it in our mouth,” said Yunkner.

After initial research, Yunker learned that dentists recommend soaking a toothbrush in a one percent hydrochloride solution for upwards of 20 hours. He figured adding a small, motorized agitator would do a better job than mere soaking, and do so in less time. After consulting with his friend Mark Hayes, an engineering major, about the design of the product, Adam decided to enter the poster/pitch competition to see what others thought of his idea.

“The competition was a lot of fun. You get to pitch your idea to professors and they give you really good feedback on ways to improve it,” he said. “It’s also helped me develop a skill set that I know will benefit me in my career.”

Yunker shared first place in the poster competition with senior marketing major Adam Alexander of Constantine, Michigan, who hopes to continue working towards implementation of his idea for an on-campus movie theater.

“I’d never competed in the competition before, but it’s inspired me to continue forward with writing a complete business plan for my idea,” said Alexander.

According to Schakett, the competition helps students learn skills vital to a successful entrepreneurship career, namely the ability to take an idea, develop it into a viable product or service, and explain it in a way that is both enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but also very concise.

“Students have a tendency to have these big, broad ideas, and it takes them a long time to express their concept, so this competition really makes them compress that idea and hopefully that’s what they are learning to do,” she said. “I think more importantly though, they are developing those networking skills and really getting out of student mode and into business mode.”

The judges for the fall quarter competition were Dr. Michelle Govekar, Dr. Susan Schertzer and Dr. Terry Maris. The next competition is on Feb. 8, 2011, at 6 p.m. in Dicke Forum, and is open to students across campus. For more information about this exciting event, contact Dr. Terry Schakett at t-schakett@onu.edu.