Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

1,000 Pitches business idea contest under way
across campus

A sunscreen applicator for your back. An education-funding system more equitable than property taxes. A pillow alarm clock that’s harder to sleep through than the one on your nightstand. These were some of the first submissions to the third annual 1,000 Pitches idea contest, organized by students and designed to fuel entrepreneurship at the university.


For more information
1,000 Pitches
See videos of the pitches
Future pitch stations

“What we really want to do in this competition is to create a cultural movement on campus, where we get everyone to think more entrepreneurially and more innovatively,” says 1,000 Pitches project director Prateek Garg, a sophomore majoring in industrial and operations engineering and business.

MPowered Entrepreneurship runs the contest. Since its kick-off on Sept. 24, more than 300 ideas have been submitted either online or at traveling pitch stations the students set up at various points on campus each week.


Click on the image to view a video shot at the first pitch station for this year's 1,000 Pitches contest.


This year, students compete in 10 categories: best mobile app, consumer product, environment, health, local business, social entrepreneurship, technology, Web 2.0, Mprovements (improvements to campus) and Michigan Matters (ways to better the state’s economy). The winner in each category gets $1,000. The contest ends Nov. 19.

Organizers see it as a springboard. Last year, engineering student Md Shahnoor Amin won the environment category for his June Energy proposal to create a portable, low-cost energy source for developing countries that don’t have reliable electricity. He took his idea to the university’s student business incubator, TechArb. After one semester there, he and his co-founder have a prototype solar-powered panel of light-emitting diodes that opens like a book.

At the first pitch station in Mason Hall, education major Bridgit Decarlo stopped to air her education-funding reform idea: Divide property tax revenue equally among the state’s as a way to level the playing field.

“Although this isn’t really a business idea, it’s something I’m passionate about and it involves the flow and exchange of money, so I thought it’d be a good idea to get it out there for some business person to hear,” Decarlo says.

She has taken an important first step, according to Doug Neal, managing director of the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship.

“1,000 Pitches is more than a business idea competition,” Neal says. “It’s about generating a culture of entrepreneurship on campus and with business leaders and entrepreneurs in our community. Getting people to share their ideas is the first step in the process. Yes, there is a competition, judging and awards, but along the way, we are connecting people who share an affinity for innovation and creating the impossible.”