Pitch night offers young entrepreneurs chance to win money for ideas

May 02, 2017

Daryn Vlad

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     Students have the power to make the world a better place, even if that means a coffee mug that can save you from being grumpy in your 8 a.m. class.

     On April 19, The El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization (EPIIC) hosted the Lion’s Den Pitch Night in partnership with local entrepreneurship advocacy group, Peak Startup, to give community members the opportunity to pitch their ideas.

     The event, held every semester and modeled after the TV show “Shark Tank,” allows developing entrepreneurs at UCCS and the surrounding community the chance to win the first-place prize of $1,000 for their product ideas.

     Participants included students from UCCS, Colorado College and Pikes Peak Community College.

     UCCS student body president Samuel Elliott and his group members won second place with their card game, Unmentionable. Elliott’s group received $750 to help grow the brand.

     According to director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Tom Duening, Elliott’s group presented their idea well and will probably make a good deal of money with it.

     Groups were allotted five minutes to present their ideas to four judges who are all successful local entrepreneurs.

     Duening said the event gave students and community members the chance to network with local entrepreneurs.

     “We just really want to create that energy that is entrepreneurship, and we want it to be a part of this campus as much as we possibly can,” Duening said.

     According to Duening, winners from previous years have been tremendously successful. Last year, a group of UCCS students created a product called the SOCÜL Mug, a coffee mug that can keep beverages hot for up to two hours, according to an article published by the Gazette after last year’s pitch night event.

     The students, Nate Thuli and Patrick Lazenby, recently distributed the product internationally.

     “That (mug) is probably going to be a huge moneymaking opportunity,” Duening said.

     As a professor, Duening said he appreciates events like the pitch night, and that they bring his lectures to life, proving to students that our community members are successful innovators.

     “It always amazes me that we can come across deals that we haven’t seen before,” he said.

     Students can visit epiic. uccs.edu for more information about events and EPIIC or email Tom Duening with questions at tduening@uccs. edu.