The Daily Northwestern

Students pitch ideas at entrepreneurship event

A+Northwestern+student+speaks+to+an+audience+of+student+entrepreneurs.+NU+EPIC+and+Kellogg+School+of+Management%E2%80%99s+Entrepreneurship+Club+hosted+an+event+for+students+to+pitch+startup+ideas+and+network.
A Northwestern student speaks to an audience of student entrepreneurs. NU EPIC and Kellogg School of Management’s Entrepreneurship Club hosted an event for students to pitch startup ideas and network.

A Northwestern student speaks to an audience of student entrepreneurs. NU EPIC and Kellogg School of Management’s Entrepreneurship Club hosted an event for students to pitch startup ideas and network.

Abigail Igoe/The Daily Northwestern

Abigail Igoe/The Daily Northwestern

A Northwestern student speaks to an audience of student entrepreneurs. NU EPIC and Kellogg School of Management’s Entrepreneurship Club hosted an event for students to pitch startup ideas and network.

Mollie Leavitt, Reporter

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Northwestern students gathered at the Owen L. Coon Forum on Wednesday to pitch their startup ideas to more than 50 audience members during an event held to give student entrepreneurs the opportunity to network with each other and strengthen their pitches.

NU undergraduate student group EPIC and the Kellogg School of Management’s Entrepreneurship Club hosted the event.

The two groups emphasize student entrepreneurship and hosted the event to bridge the gap between undergraduate and graduate students interested in business, said McCormick junior Vivien Ho, co-director of programming for EPIC.

“Our mission is to inspire and empower undergrads, and we want to provide ways for them to try entrepreneurship,” Ho said.

Pitch Night provided a chance for students to improve their ideas in a forum that involved neither investors nor money, she said.

Pitch Night aims to spark a dialogue about student entrepreneurship in an informal and low-pressure setting, said second-year Kellogg student Kate Yeskey Singh, a member of the graduate eClub leadership committee.

“At Northwestern, there is a lack of transparency about entrepreneurship,” Yeskey Singh said. “Lots of people are wondering, ‘How can I find a team? How can I find people with common ideas?’”

In the past, Pitch Night was held later in the academic year. However, eClub and EPIC chose to host the event during Fall Quarter this year to get students involved in entrepreneurial projects earlier in their careers.

At the event, more than 20 people and teams pitched their ideas in one to three minutes. Following the open mic session, all audience members and entrepreneurs were invited to an open networking floor to discuss further business ventures and critique each others’ ideas.

The ideas ranged from an online flier gallery to storing college students’ belongings over the summer. Students’ pitches ranged in stages of development as well, from those looking to collaborate on any sort of startup to highly developed elevator pitches.

First-year Kellogg student Kevin Takaoka pitched the idea of creating an online platform that connects math tutors to students across the globe who do not have access to them.

“My project is still in the ideation phase,” Takaoka said. “I came to Pitch Night to share my idea and to find colleagues to collaborate with.”

Michael Tu (McCormick ’13, ’14) pitched his idea to the group with a finished prototype and has already submitted an application for a patent. He has developed a litter box to analyze cat urine and monitor cat urination patterns in order to detect kidney and urinary tract disease in cats.

“Every time you get a chance to attend a networking event for entrepreneurs, you should,” he said.

Tu came to the event looking for people who would help him commercialize and market his idea, like many other students at the event.

“I thought it was a very low pressure way to get ideas and find people with relevant experience, regardless of the stage of the idea and get feedback,” first-year Kellogg student Melissa Caldwell said.

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