By Peter Nomeland
Last Wednesday, the Toaster, alongside the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, hosted BizPitch, a Shark Tank-like group of presentations given by six University of Minnesota students. These aspiring entrepreneurs gave 90-second pitches on their respective companies and products, ranging from music-sharing services to PSEO expansion initiatives. When their time was up, the judges would ask follow-up questions regarding their pitches’ financial outlook, plans for the future, or any other concerns or questions they may have. They are then graded on a scale of 1-10 in categories such as presentation, innovation, and the product itself. The event was well attended by members of the Entrepreneurship Club and other Toaster guests who gathered around the Toaster Ideation Hub to watch the presentations.
The winner of the 1,000-dollar prize was Max Manakov, a freshman student at the Carlson School of Business, whose product Nivoso is described as a “Rumba for your driveway,” designed to plow your driveway automatically. Manakov impressed the judges with his confident delivery and the fact that he had a patent for the robot. Two 100-dollar prizes were also awarded for Social Impact, which went to Zeke Jackson for his “PSEO For All” initiative, and the most innovative idea award, which went to Vanam Agarwal for his accident prevention system Safe Intersections. The audience also gave out an award for their favorite presentation and product, awarded to Apekshik Panigrahi and his social media app, Bouje.
John Stavig, director of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, encouraged all participants and audience members to apply for this year’s MN Cup, a statewide competition offering support, mentorship, and the opportunity to compete for funding to support their work. Applications are due Friday, April 14th.
Do you have an idea for a product, business, or service? Dream up your own application and get support during upcoming office hours (check calendar for details).