Students from all colleges compete for a $5,000 prize

Tyler Heintz, who won the second place prize for the existing idea category, gave his pitch on a new breaking system he developed for drift-racing.

Jack Mcclellan

Iowa State students participated in the College by College Pitch-Off Finale yesterday, competing for awards of up to $5,000.

The competition took place in the Student Innovation Center’s “Launchpad,” starting at 2:00 p.m. Participants came into the room one at a time to deliver their pitch, while others waited in the room next door. 

The pitches were based on a variety of ideas and concepts in many different fields, spanning from industry to fashion. Each college advanced four students to the Pitch-Off Finale, a first place and runner-up from the existing business idea category and the new idea category. Sponsors for the Pitch-Off included the Iowa State Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, the Ivy College of Business, the College of Engineering and the Office of the President.

With a total of 28 students to give their 90-second pitches and spend two minutes answering questions, the pitches went until about 4:00. The judges deliberated on the placements for about 30 minutes and then called in the participants to announce the winners.

For the existing business idea category, Jassma’ray Johnson, a senior majoring in psychology, won the first-place prize for her lipgloss line, which she started just a few years ago in her dorm room at Iowa State. 

“Honestly, it feels surreal, like I still don’t feel like I just won that, like it’s crazy to me,” Johnson said. “Especially like being Iowa State University knowing that I started this down the street in Friley in my dorm room and now I’m doing like business competitions. It feels good but it doesn’t feel real.”

Taking home the $5,000 prize will go a long way for a business just starting out; Johnson explained some of the things she will put the prize towards to streamline her business.

“I’m excited with this $5,000 I definitely need to hire an accountant because I am not the greatest at math…” Johnson said. “…being able to have like this money as a resource now is definitely just going to aid in that process make everything a lot smoother, quicker, you know, making sure I had my LLC and being registered and having a permit to sell.”

The first-place winner of the new idea category was Alyssa Brascia, a senior majoring in apparel, merchandising and design, for her idea to merge aspects of both the fashion industry and her own journalistic abilities.

“This is indescribable, I didn’t go into this expecting this in the slightest,” Brascia said. “I’m very, very thankful, this is an incredibly generous, incredibly generous gift and I can’t wait to try to do something with this someday.”

Brascia was completely exhilarated by the win and shared some of her hopes for the future of herself and her business idea.

“I mean, working with a company like this is my dream anyways, with Dotdash Meredith and this is where the idea came from,” Brascia said. “So if I’m able to merge these somehow in my future, I know fashion journalism is my future and to have it solidified in an idea that’s my own. My own take on fashion journalism, it’s still including fashion still including everything that I’m studying here and want in the future. This is definitely a viable option for my future.”

While the $5,000 prize only went out to two participants, several other participants were acknowledged for their pitches and business ideas. Other winners and honorable mentions included:

  • Arilyn Tegtmeier-Oatman, a sophomore in global resource systems and agricultural education – honorable mention and $1,000

  • Sam Blythe, a sophomore majoring in finance – honorable mention and $1,000

  • Chloe Grote, a senior in industrial design – honorable mention and $1,000

  • Joel Houge, a sophomore in marketing and supply chain management – honorable mention and $1,000

  • Justin Kirschner, a graduate student getting his Doctorate in veterinary medicine – honorable mention and $1,000

  • Brynn Sweere, a graduate student in event management – best presentation and $2,000

  • Jessica Meseck, a doctoral student in computer science – third place in the new idea category for $1,500

  • Charles Yang, a senior in data science – second place in the new idea category for $2,500

  • Miranda Keith, a senior in human development and family studies, third place in the existing business category and $1,500

  • Tyler Heintz, a junior in mechanical engineering, second place in the existing business category and $2,500