Category: Pitch Competition

Winners Announced: 2023 Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition

Child Protection, Fashion and Safe Water Technologies Win Big at the Bob Mark Pitch Competition – Pictured: Winners Asia Motte, Bayle Golden, and Jordan Craven

It was a night of fierce and calculated competition as MTU students across disciplines pitched innovative business ideas and solutions to help shape the world.

This Husky Innovate event is a tribute to the late Professor of Practice, Bob Mark, within the College of Business, and a recognition of students’ entrepreneurial spirit. In its 16th year, the event, which took place on Thursday, January 19, at the MUB Ballroom, is also a highlight of Michigan Tech’s 2023 Innovation Week activities.

In all, eleven students pitched their ideas to judges, comprised of professors and renowned business professionals, and a lively audience. After an extremely interesting presentation session, Bayle Golden with her idea titled SafeROW, emerged as the winner. Taking a cash prize of $2,000 home, Ms. Golden’s start-up will help curtail the issue of child abduction in the country. This idea also won the Social Impact Award ($1000) which is sponsored by Dr. Elham Asgari, from the College of Business.

With a new innovation in finding the right fit when shopping for clothing online, Jordan Craven received the second prize with Tall and Small Designs. She received a cash prize of  $1,000 and another $250 in addition to being voted the Audience Favorite.  It did not end there for Ms. Craven as she also won the Breakout Innovation Award which is sponsored by the MTEC SmartZone and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. That also came with a $1000 cash prize.

The third prize worth $500 was taken by Asia Motta with the Droplet. Miss Motta’s idea previously won the overall at the Idea Pitch competition in the Fall of last year. For millennial plant parents, Asia’s idea is going to help save your plants from dying.

Safe water is an essential part of everyday living and public health. However, for people who manage their water at home, we are always not sure whether it has been contaminated in the wells or not. Here’s where Rehab (Ruby) Alhajjar’s Water Solution idea comes in. Winning the Honorable Mention ($250) category, Ms. Ruby’s innovation will help us detect any contamination in time.

Other ideas in health, education, and sustainable power generation also competed at the event.  With Michigan Tech’s commitment to preparing students for the future, the Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition has become an exceptional avenue to expose students to the business, entrepreneur, and academic community.

Congrats to all the contestants who took a big step forward with their entrepreneurship goals when they pitched their business models.  Special congratulations to our award winners:

Business Model Category

Presented by the College of Business with thanks to sponsors Rick and Jo Berquist, and Dan and Jane Green for sponsoring the Audience Favorite award. Student pitches were judged by how well the solution addressed the customers’ needs, the path to revenue, and the overall presentation.

  • First prize – Bayle Golden with SafeROW ($2,000)
  • Second prize – Jordan Craven with Tall and Small Designs ($1,000)
  • Third prize –  Asia Motta with The Droplet ($500)
  • Honorable Mention – Rehab (Ruby) Alhajjar with the Water Solution ($250) 
  • Audience Favorite –  Jordan Craven with Tall and Small Designs ($250) 

Social Impact Award Category

Sponsored and presented by Gates Professor Dr. Elham Asgari, College of Business. The social impact category examined the significance of the social problem and how well the solution addressed it.

  • Bayle Golden with SafeROW ($1,000)

Breakout Innovation Award

Presented by Patrick Visser, Chief Commercial Officer, MTEC SmartZone, and sponsored by the MTEC SmartZone and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The breakout innovation award considered the solution’s novelty, ease of implementation, and time to implementation.

  • Jordan Craven with Tall and Small Designs ($1,000)

Emcee Rourke Sylvain, First Place Winner Bayle Golden, and Host Jim Baker
Jordan Craven shows off their awards – Second Prize, Breakout Innovation, and Audience Favorite

Husky Innovate extends a special thanks to those who provided their time and resources to make the competition a success.

Our Sponsors

  • Dean Johnson, dean, College of Business
  • Elham Asgari, Gates Professor, College of Business
  • Rick and Jo Berquist
  • Dan and Jane Green
  • MTEC SmartZone and the MEDC

Our Judges

  • Jay Meldrum, executive director, Keweenaw Research Center; MTU liaison to the Grand Traverse Area
  • Eric Roberts, MTU alumnus; executive director, 20Fathoms
  • Elham Asgari, Gates Professor, College of Business
  • Dan Green, MTU alumnus and entrepreneur; principal, BlackFin Group
  • Adrienne Minerick, professor of chemical engineering; affiliated professor of biomedical engineering; president, American Society for Engineering Education
  • Patrick Visser, chief commercialization officer, MTEC SmartZone
  • Michael J. Cleveland, P.E. and MTU alumnus; mentor in residence at Michigan Tech
  • Lawrence W. Staley, MTU alumnus; director of engineering (retired 2019), Parker Hannifin Corporation

Our Host

  • Jim Baker, associate vice president for research administration; executive council advisor, Husky Innovate, Office of Innovation and Commercialization

Our Emcee

  • Rourke Sylvain, MS student, Biomedical Engineering, New Venture Challenge pitch winner ‘22, President of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and Founder and CEO at Integrated Molecular Innovations

Our Marketing and Support Team

  • Jessie Stapleton, marketing and communications specialist, Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
  • Eugene Agyei, Ph.D. student, College of Sciences and Arts; Husky Innovate intern
  • April DePaulis, Pavlis Honors College administrator

Our Production Team

  • Sound and Lighting Service’s Elijah Nation and the SLS team
  • Dining and Catering Services for their support. 

Thanks to all who attended! We look forward to next year’s event!

If you are interested in additional opportunities, check out our Husky Innovate Events Page.  Please feel free to reach out to huskyinnovate@mtu.edu for more information.

Written by: Eugene Brown Agyei for Husky Innovate

Huskies win at the Michigan Collegiate Startup Challenge

Michigan Tech students participating in the Michigan Collegiate Startup Challenge pose for a photo
From left to right: Rourke Sylvain, Jordan Crave, Zane Smalley, and Asia Motta

On November 11, 2022, four huskies representing three teams pitched their business ideas at Michigan State University (MSU) during the Michigan Collegiate Startup Challenge (MCSC). MCSC is Michigan’s university-level business model competition specifically designed for student entrepreneurs across Michigan. MCSC fosters entrepreneurship by encouraging students to commercialize their ideas. The event provides a forum where students develop skills by pitching their ideas and building entrepreneurial ventures.

MCSC is hosted by MSU and sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The pitch competition is a collaboration between Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Mid-Michigan College, Northern Michigan University, and Wayne State University.

The 20 semifinalist teams participating in Friday’s event included the following Michigan Tech teams:

  • Jordan Craven, Tall and Small Designs
  • Anastasia Motta and Zane Smalley, The Droplet
  • Rourke Sylvain, Integrated Molecular Innovations

During the event, twenty college student teams representing nine schools from across Michigan participated in the Elevator Pitch Challenge & Showcase. During this two (2) hour timeframe, investors, community members, students, mentors, and a panel of judges networked with this year’s competing student teams. The judges then selected ten (10) student teams to move forward to the Grand Startup Challenge. The Grand Startup Challenge consisted of having the ten (10) finalist teams pitch their idea in five (5) minutes to a live audience and this year’s judging panel.

Congratulations go out to each of our huskies. And a special shout-out goes to Jordan Craven and Rourke Sylvain! Craven took first place, winning $5,000, and Sylvain took fourth place, winning $1,000. In addition, Asia Motta, first-place winner of the Husky Innovate Idea Pitch, and Zane Smalley represented Michigan Tech well during their pitch. We are excited for the future and look forward to the next steps on their innovation journey!

Student winners of the Michigan Collegiate Startup Challenge pose on stage with large checks
Winners of the Michigan Collegiate Startup Challenge featuring Michigan Tech participants Rourke Sylvain (Fourth Place, far left) and Jordan Craven (First Place, center)

Idea Pitch 2022: MTU Students Poised to Shape the World with Innovative Solutions


One hundred and twenty seconds. This is the amount of time students had to present their entrepreneurial ideas to judges at this year’s Ideas Pitch Competition. 

The event took place at 5 pm on Tuesday, October 4, at the Great Lakes Research Center.

Organized by Husky Innovate every fall semester as one of several activities to build the capacity of students to launch real-world startups.  This year’s event saw eight contestants whose ideas ranged from building college-friendly cabinets that do not require tools to assemble, to setting up food trucks for diverse communities in the Houghton area. 

After very interesting presentations, the first-place award with a $200 cash prize went to  Anastasia Motta whose idea, “The Droplet”, is going to help you save your house plants from dying. 

Husky Innovate Idea Pitch Competition certification presentation
Asia Motta (right) receiving the first place certificate and award from Jon Leinonen.

Cassandra Nash with a new idea of making college-friendly cabinets won the second-place award. She received a $100 cash prize. The third-place award with a $50 prize was taken by Alex Bos. Alex’s pitch is attempting to revolutionalize how college students can enjoy a couch even in limited spaces. 

In addition to judges, the audience was comprised of students, faculty members, and university staff.  The audience was given the opportunity to vote for their favorite pitch.  Noel Kamdem-Tegue, whose company, Black Earth Rising, pitched their food truck idea to serve African and Indian food with the idea that diverse communities can enjoy their home favorites.  Black Earth Rising was judged as the audience’s favorite. 

Other award categories included an honorable mention and a social impact award received by Ruby Alhajjar and Cethan Magnan respectively.

The event was supported by Pavlis Honors College.  Awards were sponsored by Dean Johnson, Dean of the College of Business, and Elham Asgari, Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at the College of Business.

The judges for the night were Elham Asgari (COB); Erich Petushek (CLS), Mark Rudnicki (COFRES), Briana Tucker (Enterprise), Jason Mack, (MTEC SmartZone); and Rourke Sylvain (Biomed). The event was emceed by Bayle Golden, (COB).

The Idea Pitch Competition is the first of three pitch events that Husky Innovate hosts each year. The next pitch event is the Bob Mark Business Model Competition on January 19th, a legacy event that celebrates entrepreneurship and is a tribute to the late College of Business Professor of Practice Bob Mark. Contestants pitch the key components of their business models, including value proposition, customer segment, and product market fit. 

First Place: Anastasia Motta with The Droplet ($200)
Second Place: Cassandra Nash with College Friendly Cabinets ($100)
Third Place: Alex Bos with The SELF Couch ($50)
Honorable Mention: Ruby Alhajjar with Monitoring System for Microbial Influence ($25)
Audience Favorite: Noel Kamdem-Tegue with Black Earth Rising, a food truck ($25)
Social Impact Award: Cethan Magnan with School Swap ($100)

Written by: Eugene Brown Agyei for Husky Innovate

Winners Announced: 2022 Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition

Social Impact Award Winner – Bayle Golden with STEMPOWER

Congratulations and thank you to Husky Innovate’s Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition contestants and winners! On January 27th, 16 Michigan Tech students, representing diverse majors, participated in the competition either virtually over Zoom or in-person, and pitched their business models to a panel of judges and to a live audience. Each contestant was provided 4 minutes to pitch key components of their business models, including the value proposition and customer segment.

A highlight of Michigan Tech’s Innovation Week, this legacy event celebrates entrepreneurship and is a tribute to the late College of Business Professor of Practice Bob Mark. There were three categories of prizes: business model, social impact, and breakout innovation. The business model category looked at how well the solution addresses the customers’ needs, the path to revenue, and the overall presentation. The social impact category examined the significance of the social problem and how well the solution addressed it. The breakout innovation award considered the solution’s novelty, ease of implementation, and time to implementation.  

Congrats to all the contestants who took a big step forward with their entrepreneurship goals when they pitched their business models. Special congratulations to our award winners:

Business Model Category 

Presented by College of Business, thank you to sponsors Rick and Jo Berquist, and Dan and Jane Green for sponsoring the Audience Favorite award.

  • First prize – Akhil Kurup with Sense ($2,000)
  • Second prize – Maggie Zimmermann  with Famealia ($1,000)
  • Third prize – Jakob Christiansen with ProBoard ($500)
  • Honorable Mention – Nick Peterson with NOMAD ($250) 
  • Audience Favorite – Maggie Zimmermann with Famealia ($250) 

Social Impact Award Category

Sponsored and presented by Dr. Elham Asgari, Gates Professor College of Business, with a $1,000 matching contribution from Arick Davis and Jake Northey of Creative Mines.

  • Bayle Golden with STEMPOWER ($2,000)

Breakout Innovation Award

Presented by Patrick Visser, Chief Commercial Officer, MTEC SmartZone, sponsored by the MTEC SmartZone and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

  • Akhil Kurup with Sense ($1,000)

Husky Innovate extends a special thanks to those who provided their time and resources to make the competition a success.

Our Sponsors

  • Dean Johnson, Dean, College of Business
  • Elham Asgari, Gates Professor, College of Business
  • Rick and Jo Berquist
  • Dan and Jane Green
  • Arick Davis and Jake Northey, Creative Mines
  • MTEC SmartZone and the MEDC

Our Judges 

  • Jim Baker, Associate VP Research Administration, Co-Director Husky Innovate 
  • Michelle Jarvie-Eggart, Assistant Professor Engineering Fundamentals
  • Eric Roberts, Executive Director 20Fathoms 
  • David Shull, Senior Director Skills Partnerships, Handshake
  • Elham Asgari, Gates Professor, College of Business
  • Dan Green, Entrepreneur, and Principal at BlackFin Group, MTU Alumnus
  • Arick Davis, Entrepreneur, Co-founder Last Mile Cafe, Creative Mines, MTU Alumnus 
Competition Judges

Our Emcee

Gary Tropp, Computer Network and System Administration, Pavlis Honors College Student, University Innovation Fellow, and Husky Innovate Pitch winner ‘18, ‘19.

Our Marketing Team

Vienna Leonarduzzi, Marketing and Communications Director, Pavlis Honors College, and Laura Vidal Chiesa, Michigan Tech Ph.D. Student, College of Sciences and Arts and Husky Innovate Intern.  

Our Production Team

Special thanks to Stefan Hurthibise and the Michigan Tech IT team, Sound and Lighting Services’ James Langsford, Elijah Nation, Luke Schloemp, and the rest of the team, and Photo Services provided by Alok Shelar of University Marketing and Communications, and Dining and Catering Services for their support. 

A special thank you to the Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement for inviting all Bob Mark pitch contestants to watch the January 29th Michigan Tech Hockey game from the Presidential Skybox.

Thanks to all who attended! We look forward to next year’s event!

Michigan Tech Teams to “Takeover” TCNewTech Pitch Contest

TCNewTech Pitch Contest, streaming live on Tuesday, August 4 at 6 p.m.

Join the TCNewTech Community as Michigan Tech and Husky Innovate takeover their August Pitch Contest for startups. TCNewTech is a community of tech enthusiasts, businesses, entrepreneurs, and Michigan policymakers building a culture of innovation, economic growth and opportunity for local talent in the Traverse City Region.

The competition will showcase three MTU student-generated “Bar Napkin” business ideas or innovations and three commercialized startups with roots connected to MTU and the Husky Innovate program.

This year six teams will present:

Idea pitch category

  • Kyra Pratley with MercyAid
  • Jacob Soter with SwimSmart
  • Mitch DeLong with FreightMate

Business model pitch category

  • Ranit Karmakar with Focus
  • Steve Tokarz, Yoke Khin Yap (Physics) and postdoc Nazimye Yapichi with StabiLux Biosciences
  • Steven Senczyszyyn and Andrew Barnard (GLRC) with Nanosound

Read more in Tech Today or register to watch the competition on Tuesday, August 4 at 6 p.m. EST.

Bob Mark Business Model Competition is December 5

The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship is hosting the 2018 Bob Mark Business Model Competition on Wednesday, December 5 from 7-9 p.m. in the Opie Library. Students can apply to compete here.

The 2018 Bob Mark competition includes an idea pitch and a business model description. This event takes place later in the year so that contestants will have had the opportunity to develop their business model through participation in Husky Innovate workshops. Using Lean Launchpad methods and the Business Model Canvas, students will share insights from customer interviews that inform their business model.

Prizes will be awarded to the most scalable and actionable business model pitches. Using prize money, students have a chance to take their entrepreneurial idea to the next stage of development further preparing them for additional opportunities such as competing at the New Venture Competition held this April at Central Michigan University.

President Koubek will serve as a distinguished judge alongside other entrepreneurially minded faculty, staff, and community members.

Prizes for the Bob Mark Business Model Competition include:

First Prize – $2,000 + $100 services from MTEC SmartZone

Second Prize – $1,000 + $100 services from MTEC SmartZone

Third Prize – $500 + $100 services from MTEC SmartZone

Honorable Mention (2 prizes) – $250 each

Audience Favorite – $250

MTEC SmartZone prize – $1000

This event is a tribute to the late Bob Mark, professor of practice in the School of Business and Economics. Mark founded the Elevator Pitch Competition and brought the Business Plan Competition to Michigan Tech. The Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition and other efforts support his entrepreneurial spirit and that continues to live on in students, faculty, and staff.

Students who participated in the Idea Pitch Competition on October 17 are strongly encouraged to apply to compete in the Bob Mark Business Model Competition. Students should apply by submitting this form no later than midnight on Wednesday, November 21st (before Thanksgiving break). The top 15 applicants will be selected to participate in the Bob Mark Business Model Competition. Students who upload a business model canvas to their application will be given priority consideration. Student guidelines, scoring criteria, and a blank Business Model Canvas can be found at mtu.edu/honors/ice/husky-innovate.

Erica Austin and Kyle Schuhknecht presenting their idea, Mr. Green Tips, an eco-friendly informational application at the Idea Pitch Competition in October.

The 2018 Bob Mark Business Model Competition is part of Husky Innovate, a series of workshops and events that build on each other with the intention of guiding students through key phases of innovation or business development while emphasizing evidence-based strategies for success. Bob Mark Business Model Competition is hosted by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, which is a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College, the School of Business and Economics, and the Vice President for Research Office.

 

Introducing Husky Innovate Workshops and Pitch Competitions

The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship at Michigan Tech, a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College and the School of Business and Economics, announces a new series of workshops and events for students called Husky Innovate. Husky Innovate is a succession of workshops and competitions guiding students through key phases of innovation and business development, while emphasizing evidence-based strategies for success.

Semi Final Presentation for CMU New Venture Competition

Students are encouraged to participate in any/all events of their choosing, whether they’re interested in learning more about entrepreneurship and innovation to distinguish their résumé, or they want to start their own business and build knowledge, expertise and confidence through participation.

Ideate and create

Students who challenge themselves to pitch their idea at a national, state or regional competition will find the Husky Innovate track provides a solid foundation for their goals. The workshops and events emphasize experiential learning and provide the opportunity to get valuable feedback from peers and mentors.

IMG_5458

The Idea Pitch Competition will be held 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 17 in Fisher 138. During the two-minute pitch competition students will share their favorite innovative and disruptive idea in an interactive, community setting. Cash prizes will be awarded. Students should register early;  participation is limited to the first 30 registrants.

See more events and upcoming workshops at mtu.edu/husky-innovate.

Michigan Tech Students Win $30,000 at CMU New Venture Competition

By Amy Karagiannakis

Five student teams from Michigan Tech recently traveled to Central Michigan University to compete in the New Venture Competition. The seventh annual New Venture Competition took place on Friday, March 24th and was co-sponsored by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) within the Pavlis Honors College at Michigan Tech. A total of 29 student teams competed: 24 from Central Michigan University, four from Michigan Technological University and one team with members from both universities. Students pitched their businesses to panels of experienced entrepreneurs through three consecutive rounds.

Multi-Dimensional Manufacturing led by Nick Dubeil (Mechanical Engineering) and Morgan Crocker (Scientific and Technical Communication) along with their product, The Metaloid, won Best Overall Venture which comes with $30,000 and a year of mentoring support from Blue Water Angels in Midland.  Dubiel and Crocker were invited to pitch their business for investment to Blue Water Angels at a pitch night the following week as well. Jim Baker, Executive Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement at Michigan Tech, served as Dubiel’s mentor for his participation in the competition. “Nick and Morgan’s success is a great example of the hands-on nature of the Michigan Tech experience and the resourcefulness of students who choose to come here. Their path to winning began when Nick got his hands dirty and built a 3D printer to demonstrate the specific advantages of his ideas over alternatives. They followed their technical validation by leveraging resources within the Pavlis Honors College and the Entrepreneurs Club to develop a compelling, and winning, business model and pitch,” shared Baker.

Photo courtesy of Central Michigan University.
Photo courtesy of Central Michigan University.

The core themes of CMU’s New Venture is the hands-on approach to proving that your product works and providing a business model that demonstrates an understanding of concepts that will attract investors and buyers. Dubiel and Crocker covered both criteria, enabling their win and attracting interested investors in the process. Ron Beebe, principal owner of Euclid Industries and founding member of the Blue Water Angels said, “I think the passion that (Dubiel) has for his product was probably the most significant factor. I invest in people. I think (Dubiel) is very smart, and he’s incredibly passionate about what he’s doing, plus it’s a good product.”

Dubiel developed his own 3D printer when he became frustrated with the inefficiencies of current 3D printing technology. By improving on the nozzle-based material delivery hardware and using temperature-sensing technology, Dubiel says The Metaloid can print eight times faster than conventional 3D printers currently on the market. “I was not expecting to do as well as I did in this (competition),” Dubiel said. “I have a lot of new decisions to make, but it will be fun, because I didn’t anticipate any of this.” He plans to begin selling his product at a price of $3,300.

Dubiel and Crocker participated in Michigan Tech’s National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Program in January. Directed by Mary Raber, Assistant Dean of the Pavlis Honors College, I-Corps is a team-based program structure that was developed through a partnership between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The workshop provides an introduction to the Lean Start-up business development methodology which focuses on getting out of the lab and using the proven tools of Customer Discovery and the Business Model Canvas to evaluate the commercial potential of innovative technologies. Michigan Tech will be holding the next I-Corps Site workshop in August.

This is the 7th year of the New Venture competition and the 6th year of Michigan Tech’s partnership with CMU. Last year, Michigan Tech had two category winners and a pitch competition win totaling $21,500 in prizes. Michigan Tech’s Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) within the Pavlis Honors College continues to be an excellent resource for students looking to start their own business or bring new ideas or concepts to the next stage of development. The mission of the Center is to harness the potential of the Michigan Tech campus community to innovate, develop, and implement ideas and inventions by building and maintaining a strong and integrated ecosystem with a cohesive set of entrepreneurial and innovation resources to enable success. Students interested in harnessing their potential to innovate, develop, and implement their ideas and inventions are encouraged to stop in the Pavlis Honors College (M&M 722) to learn more about ICE and all of the resources available to them. A schedule of upcoming student innovator and entrepreneur competitions can be found here.