LU students compete for big prizes at Cardinal Ideas Pitch Deck Competition

Most know of startup companies that have gone big.  What was the process at Google, Facebook, Tesla and others that transformed fledgling startup companies into industry leaders? Students at Lamar University can experience the startup process by enrolling in entrepreneurship courses currently offered in the College of Business and the College of Engineering. Dr. Vivek Natarajan, professor of marketing, and Dr. Robert Kelley Bradley, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering are working with the team at the Entrepreneurship Institute to create an entrepreneurship ecosystem giving students the opportunity to learn and to experience business startup activities both inside and outside of the classroom. 
First Place Winners: Tien Nguyen, Thanh Nguyen, and Cody Tran
First Place Winners: Tien Nguyen, Thanh Nguyen, and Cody Tran

Recently, the Cardinal Ideas Pitch Competition gave teams of student and community entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop and present their business ideas to a panel of judges from the regional business and investment community. The competition, which will be held yearly, was the culmination of training the students and local entrepreneurs received through courses taught by Natarajan and Bradley as well as programs offered by the Entrepreneurship Institute. Cardinal Ideas gives startups the opportunity to refine their business ideas and their presentation skills. The competition also provides entrepreneurs with networking opportunities with capital providers and community leaders.
“In my Technology Entrepreneurship course,” said Bradley, “we start by sharing ideas for products. We form small teams to develop the most promising ideas and, by the end of the course, each team will have fleshed-out a product design and a business model to commercialize it.” 

Both professors hope to broaden the enrollment in the courses and to help other faculty develop new entrepreneurship courses catering to the distinct needs and interests of students in other departments.
According to Dr. Richard Prets, executive director of the Entrepreneurship Institute, the teams participating in the pitch competition will receive the benefit of other events and services provided by the Entrepreneurship Institute. 
second place winner
Second place Winners: Kalen Baker and Rahagir Ridwan Anik
“An example of an upcoming event,” Prets said, “is Cardinal Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.  Bootcamp is a fast-paced, short course instructional program focused on the dynamics of hi-tech commercialization mixed with stories and anecdotes taught by successful Lamar alum entrepreneurs.”
Student and community entrepreneurs also receive support from the Small Business Development Center. The SBDC offers a range of services including pitch deck review and edit.  David Mulcahy, LU’s SBDC director, emphasized “we can assist student entrepreneurs with financial projections and business plan narratives all investors and lenders want to see before they commit funds to a project.” 
The Institute can also provide incubation space for qualified startups. Every team participating in the competition received both a faculty mentor and a mentor from the local business community.
elevator pitch winner 3rd place
Best Elevator Pitch Third Place Winners:
Peace Mogbo, Paul Oghosa Idahosa and Flaubert Honang

“I found mentoring teams to be an incredibly fulfilling and enriching experience. It was a joy getting to know each team personally, and my primary aim was to serve as their enthusiastic cheerleader. While the team did the hard work of creating the pitch, I offered guidance and support to make it more impactful.”, said Kristeen Reynolds, cofounder of Drinkicks and a business community mentor.
“Another great resource,” added Dr. Prets, “is our Advisory Board of Directors which includes successful entrepreneurs with strong connections to LU. and to the local community. The Board was instrumental in funding the Pitch Competition.”  The SBDC’s John Lee, master of ceremony for the competition and with the help of Dr. Dann Brown, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, announced the winning teams and awards:

1st Place:
BSSPro, Tien Nguyen, Thanh Nguyen and Cody Tran
First place award of $3,000 Sponsored by FuelTrax
2nd Place:
3D Anti-Corrosive Surfaces, Kalen Baker and Rahagir Ridwan Anik
Second place award of $2,000 Sponsored by M&D Supply and Albanese Properties
3rd Place:
Spice Point, Peace Mogbo, Paul Oghosa Idahosa and Flaubert Honang
Third place award of $1,000 Sponsored by Discovery Information Technologies

Best Elevator Pitch:
Spice Point, Peace Mogbo, Paul Oghosa Idahosa and Flaubert Honang
Best elevator pitch award of $1,000 Sponsored by FastLane,
Additional event funding provided by Ana Pereda, PumpTex and KLV.

Keep an eye out for future EILU events and entrepreneurship courses. If you have a great idea for a product or business but don’t know how to move forward now is the time act. The next big idea or company that becomes a household name could be yours!