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"Pitch Perfect" for Business




It’s an enterprising idea: Offer Gibbons students a fun way to put their business start-up ideas and entrepreneurial know-how to the test.

Students competing in 2019 iCube Pitch Contest.

On a recent Thursday afternoon, iCube (Innovative Crusaders Understanding Business and Entrepreneurship) offered students just that chance through its second annual pitch contest, which also taught them the basics of entrepreneurship - one of the club’s main tenets. “Our students asked for the opportunity and we responded,” Business Educator and iCube Moderator Brent Nolan ’05 said.

“The hope is that they (students) not only learned what entrepreneurship is, but also how to make a logo, present an idea, and create a business," Business Educator and iCube Moderator Brent Nolan ’05 said. 

“The hope,” he added, “is that they not only learned what entrepreneurship is, but also how to make a logo, present an idea, and create a business.” The added hope, he noted, “is to build on the concept next year.”

The concept for the May 9th pitch contest, like its predecessor, was for students to participate in a competition like TV's "Shark Tank."  Here’s how it worked: Four teams, comprising a total of five students,” presented their business ideas to a panel of four judges, including three students from the NC State University’s Entrepreneurship Program and one Gibbons student, Julie Salcido ’19.

Michael Austin '19 presenting at iCube's 2019 pitch contest.

The finalists were chosen from a group of eight teams who took part in the competition, which students have been involved in since the start of the 2018-2019 academic year. The prize? Knowledge and iCube swag, said Nolan.

Michael Austin ’22 came in first place for his business, SNIP (Sewage Network for Identifying Persons). Michael developed a prototype for a network of scanners placed in sewers that sort through wastewater to find DNA to identify missing people.

“Winning the pitch contest has inspired me and cemented my interest in entrepreneurial thinking,” said Michael.  “Such thinking will encourage me to be creative and original in upcoming opportunities for college, and my future career.”

Freshman girls involved in iCube Pitch Contest.

Some students already have turned their ideas into a business. That is the case for Katherine Harvey ’22 and Sarah Canale ’22. The pair run a nonprofit called “Beads for Babes,” involving the creation of bracelets, which they make for $1 and sell for $5. They donate the profits to Beginning and Beyond Child Development Center, a Raleigh nonprofit with strong ties to Gibbons.

“To succeed in the modern workplace students will need to adapt and innovate in whatever career they pursue – just like entrepreneurs do,” said Nolan. “What they learn here will give them a head start.”


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