Allegheny, Grove City Students Pitch Their Big Ideas

The  Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny College will hold its 11th Annual Big Idea Competition on April 28-29 in Quigley Hall. The contest emulates the experiences seen on the popular CNBC broadcast, “Shark Tank”. The public is welcome to attend the final round of presentations on Saturday, April 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Students will present entrepreneurial concepts with the chance to receive funding through cash prizes. The ideas must fit into one of four areas: For-profit Business, Not-for-profit Social Venture, Research Project, or Community Engagement Initiative. Students work in teams and design 20-minute presentations for their ideas, which they present at the competition.

The $5,000 first place prize has been renamed The Zingale Prize in honor Allegheny College alumnus Mr. Lance Zingale ’77, who donated the funding for the prizes. In total, $10,000 in prizes and trophies will be awarded, with 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place teams receiving trophies, monetary prizes, and honorable mentions.

Some students have re-purposed their Junior Seminar or Senior Comp projects, or have taken the Economics of Entrepreneurship II class, in order to prepare for this competition. This year, there are 27 teams of one to three students each; seven of the teams are from Grove City College.  The remaining 20 consist of Allegheny students.  Some of the students are taking entrepreneurship-focused classes such as Economics of Entrepreneurship II &  Entrepreneurship in Interactive Entertainment (Computer Science focus).

The competition will be judged by a panel of alumni, as well as two faculty members. 

Some students are able to take their projects even further and continue to develop their concepts outside of the competition. Francisco Quezada ’16, who won last year, expanded his winning proposal and eventually started a company called Volta Technologies.

Entrepreneur in Residence Chris Allison and Sarah Holt are co-coordinators of the the Big Idea competition. Allison says he sees students benefit through the experience of creating business designs.

“Students who participate learn how to build a business, social venture or community engagement project, and manage a research project,” Allison said. “They also learn how to convince executives to fund these projects, and how to put their coursework into action.”