HCC Students Practice Pitches for Biannual Entrepreneurial Competition
Megan Whalen used to sing on stage, so she’s comfortable performing in front of an audience – she just isn’t practiced in pitching to one.
The general studies major at Howard Community College (HCC) has spent weeks rehearsing for the college’s upcoming Entrepreneurial Celebration, a judged competition sponsored by the college’s Center for Entrepreneurial & Business Excellence (CEBE), Pinnacle Advisory Group, Inc. Howard County Chamber of Commerce, Howard County Economic Development Authority, and Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.
“In the shower, I’m rehearsing. While walking the dog, I’m rehearsing,” she said.
On Friday, she joined three of her competitors in a second-floor classroom in Duncan Hall, where the group performed practice pitches and got feedback from Betty Noble, chair of business and entrepreneurship.
The students are four of 13 to participate in the celebration on May 2, 2017, where select students from HCC’s introductory entrepreneurship and creativity course will have five minutes to present their business ideas to a panel of entrepreneurial business professionals. Each will be scored on quality of presentation, content, and time. Top scorers receive the Pinnacle Entrepreneur Prize, with an award of $1,800 for first place, and $700 for placing second.
Wearing athletic shorts and a purple t-shirt, Whalen stood confident on Friday while presenting her idea for “Kai,” a system, she says, that will “harness wave currents through its vortex design to produce clean and renewable energy.”
Clocking in at four minutes and 10 seconds, Whalen’s timing was perfect. Students who stop before three minutes will lose five points at the event. Five points are also deducted if a student goes over the five minute mark.
“Your passion really came across,” Noble said, following the pitch. “That’s so important.”
Noble has watched the students grow as they’ve practiced over several weeks. Their improvement over that time, she said, is amazing to watch.
For marketing major Tristen Larsen, entrepreneurship is his life.
“I live entrepreneurship,” he said. “My business is my number one priority.”
Larsen, who conducts social media for the entrepreneurship program’s Ellicott City Project – helping businesses affected by the historic Ellicott City flood – joined the group in Duncan Hall on Friday to practice his pitch for Customer Magnets Marketing, a mobile application connecting restaurants to vendors.
Whalen remarked that she’d watched Larsen over the weeks, and Friday’s presentation was by far his best.
Business major Kareem Aboutaleb also took advantage of the practice run, pitching his idea for “Storm Adventures,” a year-round adventure camp focusing on millennials. General studies major Brianne Hemphill, who was the latest to join in the competition, rehearsed her pitch for “Detergefuse and Fablend Stations,” which would allow shoppers to create their own laundry pods right in the grocery store.
With two children at home, Hemphill said it can be hard to practice, but perhaps they act as her audience.
HCC’s Entrepreneurial Celebration will take place 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in the Rouse Company Foundation (RCF) Student Services Hall, Room 400. Attendees are asked to RSVP to CEBE@howardcc.edu. The Howard County Chamber of Commerce hosts the top two students winners from the spring and fall competitions for an entrepreneurial showdown at the Chamber Annual Meeting luncheon at Turf Valley on May 18, 2017.