Cal Poly’s third annual Ray Scherr Elevator Pitch Competition on Oct. 16 turned student’s dreams into reality.
The event, You+Media=The Future, allowed students to pitch ideas to a panel of judges in the hopes that their idea would not only win them a $1,000 cash prize, but the opportunity to fly to Chicago for a national elevator pitch competition.
Jonathan York, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship for the Orfalea College of Business, is one of the founding members of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship allows students to listen to speakers who made it big in the business world, sponsors trips to the Silicon Valley to get professional advice about their ideas and provides a place to collaborate and get support from other students.
“We felt that if we built a center that was community-wide, we would get a lot of interesting ideas,” York said. “Elevator pitch competitions are pretty popular, and they are great experiences for students to be able to communicate quickly what the value of their idea is. We wanted to have it during fall so that students can get started on their entrepreneurial skills right away.”
Not only did the event feature the competition, but there was also a panel discussing the future of technology, and how the innovation impacts the opportunities that young entrepreneurs have.
“Technology has not changed the elevator pitch competition itself, but it has made more people aware of the competition,” York said.
Modern media also allows passionate students to communicate their ideas with others. Computer science senior Jeremy Moyers, for example, created an app for roommate living that he designed with two other students.
“It is much easier to start a business and find your own investors and customers through technology,” York said. “You don’t have to be rich or have a ton of money to do it.”
The Center for Innovations and Entrepreneurship has a variety of programs that influence students to pursue their passion for business, while also giving them the necessary means to put it into practice.
“We have a program called the hatchery, which is an on-campus place for people who are actually starting businesses to get together and share ideas,” York said. “We also have innovation’s sandbox, which is essentially a place where anybody can go and build stuff as well as do market studies. We also have an entrepreneurship club, which is an on-campus, student-run organization.”