Students win $1,000 prizes for their business pitches

Fifteen SMU students won prize money totaling $10,000 for his or her business pitches at the Big iDeas Pitch Contest Friday, Sept. 25, in the Collins Center.

The Big iDeas Pitch Contest is an annual competition hosted by the Engaged Learning office to encourage entrepreneurship and creativity at an undergraduate level. Due to the pandemic, the Big iDeas Pitch contest utilized Kontess technology to facilitate the competition and had a hybrid in-person and virtual event to announce the winners.

“We’ve tried very hard to be really creative during the pandemic to continue to engage our students and engage our Dallas community audiences,” said Camille McCallum, program specialist for entrepreneurship. “With the Big iDeas Pitch Competition, we didn’t want it to be any different. And we didn’t want students to miss out on the opportunity to pitch just because the pandemic provided some in-person barriers.”

The student startups Covid SMS, Carp, spotBOX, Room Valet, MyFire, Regent, MyLow, Renewal, The Playground Acting Program, and PITCHin each received a $1,000 check to help turn their ideas into a reality.

Junior Greta Felton’s idea, Regent, is a startup that provides corporate apparel for women. She said that she realized the need for more stylish corporate clothing for women through her own experiences in the Alternative Asset program at SMU.

“My business is a high fashion, uniquely designed corporate apparel brand for women. Forget the days of golf polos, large oversized T-shirts, and baseball caps,” Felton said. “Let’s create something that women actually want to wear.”

Seniors Matt Melcher and Anna Rose Correll’s Room Valet is a startup that designs and delivers dorm interior decorations to ease the stress of college move-in. Last year, Melcher pitched this same idea but did not win. However, this year he pitched again, but with Correll. He said Correll’s designs enhanced their pitch, and he believes that is why they won the prize money this year.

“We are building out our website with that money first and getting our LLC. From there, we are using what is left to build our inventory, “ Correll said.

Sophomores Costakis Louizou and Brandon Herman’s idea, Mylow, is an app that allows users to customize dietary preferences and connects them to restaurants that can deliver food that fits within those dietary needs.

“It’s great to see other people also see possibilities and want to put in a chance on your idea,” Louiszou said.

In the spring, Engaged Learning hosts a second event called the Big iDeas Business Plan Competition, where students pitch business plans in hopes of winning $5,000. This business pitch is more complex with supplemental business models and market research.

“I would say that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. By pitching a lot of it is a confidence hurdle more than anything,” McCallum said. “And if that’s the case, I would encourage them to email me to set a meeting, I’ll be glad to build them up with all the confidence-boosting mantras that I have, and help them to hone their idea.”