ISU Innovation pitch competition brings entrepreneurship to students


Maddie Leopardo/Iowa State Daily

Chris James (middle) and John Clark (right) accept their $1000 reward after winning ‘overall best pitch’ at the Innovation Pitch event held in the M-Shop March 8, 2017. James and Clark, both freshmen in pre-business, pitched the idea of their product, called “Truth 360.” The idea behind “Truth 360” is to install 360 degree cameras into zoo exhibits and aquarium tanks, sending the camera footage to virtual reality headsets. People can then wear the headsets and experience it as if they were up-close with the animals. 

, Dawit Tilahun

Whether they’re driven by a sense of purpose, achievement or not being told what to do, a group of Iowa State student entrepreneurs are pitching their business ideas in front of judges, for money.

The competition will happen Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Maintenance Shop.

The winner of Thursday’s competition will represent Iowa State at the national CEO competition in Tampa, Florida this October.

The top three places will be awarded $200 cash prizes, with the winner receiving coverage for their travel to Tampa’s competition.

“A pitch is a 90 second showcase of your business describing what you are doing, what you have done and the potential of what you could do with your business,” said Chris James, sophomore in entrepreneurship and co-founder of True360.

Tuesday members of Iowa State’s Entrepreneurship Club had a workshop to prepare themselves for Thursday’s pitch competition.

“You state the problem, your solution and then your ask”, said Nolan Herlocker, the president of the ISU Entrepreneurship Club and experienced pitch competitor.

“There’s a difference between knowing what you are saying and memorizing,” said Judi Eyles, the new director of the Iowa State Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship.

Eyles will be one of four judges at Thursday’s pitch competition. After students finish their 90 second pitch, the judges then ask them questions.

James emphasized how he structures half of his speech around honing in on the problem and their solution, then the other half discussing the details of the operation.

“You never want to find the solution first; you want to find the problem and then create a solution,” said John Clark, sophomore in entrepreneurship and co-founder of True360.

Clark and James have spent months preparing their pitches and fine-tuning their presentations, but the overall process of pitching has helped them put together their business.

Students are invited to attend the pitch competition on Thursday to learn what it means to pitch and understand that creating a business is solving real-world problems.