WIU students present business ideas

Steven Barnum , News editor

The Illinois Small Business Development Center organized a competition that allowed aspiring entrepreneurs to present their business ideas.

Noah Postin hosted the event, which took place last Thursday in Stipes Hall. Postin is a grad assistant in the business department at Western Illinois University. The pitch competition featured eight students from Western who each had five minutes to present their ideas and an additional five minutes to field questions about their plan.

At the end of the competition, a panel of five judges chose the three strongest participants.

In addition to providing consulting advice so that businesses can start with a stable foundation, they also awarded cash prizes to the top three finishers in the pitch competition. The winner received $1,000, the runner-up contestant received $750 and the third place finisher received $500. Makenzie Harris went home with third place and she was gladto compete.

“Being on stage and having everyone hear my very own business idea made everything so worth it,” Harris said. “I am so happy that I had this opportunity and I would go through the whole process over again.”

Harris pitched an idea focused on organic juice that stemmed from watching the show “Ancient Aliens.” She enjoyed the show’s dialogue about space and thought that space and food should correlate. Harris worked on developing her idea and writing the script foreight weeks.

“My preparation for the pitch was a bit stressful at times,” Harris said. “I can be a perfectionist, but all in all, it was a very fun and exciting experience to get the chance to challenge myself and use my creativity. Winning third place was so unexpected. I was shocked that they even called my name.”

In the weeks leading up to the competition, organizers gave the contestants lessons on how to pitch ideas so that they could be prepared in front of the judges. This was the first annual event for Western, but Sean West won Macomb’s pitch competition in 2018. West was one of the judges during Thursday’s competition, alongside Theresa Mangieri, Ken Springer, Anthony Ricco and Lauren Merrit.

The judges selected Elijah Richardson, who presented an idea for a multi-sport complex, as the winner of the competition. Bryce Palmer finished second after pitching an idea for a production company. In no particular order, the other contestants are listed as follows: Alexis Joyner, Zach Glisan, Alexander Whitehurst, Emmanuel Sanchez andTawanda Mberikwazvo.

Casey’s and Walmart helped sponsor the event by providing door prizes for members of the audience. Postin thanked Jim Boyd, Diana Blue and Grace Ibirogba for their help with organizingthe competition.