The Final Pitch

Courtesy: Kristi Siemsen
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On Friday, TEN and PEVC held the final part of their Business Plan competition with the Final Pitch from the finalists. Competing for prizes of $2000 for 1st, $1000 for 2nd and a People’s Choice Award of $500, were four teams:

  • Swillings Garden, consisting of Erica James, Landon Yoder, Ryan O’Neal, Stacey Klaff, C’pher Gresham, pitched the idea of creating a beer garden in Phoenix
  • ReDesign, with Howard Chao, Richard Dennis and Geoff Howell, had the idea of green, modular, recycled furniture
  • PlaceforPlay.com from Mohamed Abu Zeinab, looking at renting event and sports spaces along the lines of AirBNB
  • Esphere, comprising of Chelsea Zhang, Neeson Hsu, Christopher Taylor, Shan Ouyang, showcased an idea around lingerie for young women.

All the teams pitched their business ideas in front of actual investors and were judged based on the idea and their business plan for their respective ideas. The eventual winners were the Esphere team, with Swillings Garden placing 2nd and ReDesign winning the People’s Choice Award.

The competitors loved the chance to be part of the business pitch. Geoff Howell ’14, part of the ReDesign team, thought that the Final Pitch was an extraordinary event and felt honored to be invited “The four firms that presented had viable, well thought-out business plans that were warmly embraced by the audience. The panel of judges asked very relevant questions and provided the constructive criticism all start-ups need. We were not expecting such a big crowd, so we were very pleased when we saw almost the entire auditorium full! All in all it was a terrific event. Well done!”

C’pher Gresham ’14, from the Swillings Garden team, felt that despite it being intimidating pitching to real investors, it was one of the best experiences he has had at Thunderbird. He said “As a participant in the business plan competition, it was extraordinarily exciting to see so many students involved in creating businesses. Building up to the competition, there was a great program of speakers that talked about marketing startup businesses, how to legally establish a business, and how to project out financials.”

“At the final pitch competition, having real entrepreneurs and investors judge and provide feedback was a truly unique experience. Even more exciting was the fact that each of the judges were all Thunderbird Alums. One judge, David Dodge, launched his current business SurePrep Learning after competing in the Thunderbird Business Plan competition. Writing and pitching the business plan helped to solidify the varying functional roles learned while at Thunderbird – we had to understand finance, marketing, HR, and supply chain. Overall, the business plan competition was an amazing capstone on my Thunderbird experience. Seeing Espere win was very exciting for everyone in the room. I came to Thunderbird to see businesses flourish all over the world – this was amazing to see a new business being launched. Congratulations to Espere!”

C’pher’s teammate Landon Yoder ’14, agreed and felt that “it was great to work with classmates with different concentrations and backgrounds toward a shared goal. Each team had a fascinating business idea. The diversity was amazing (and) building the business plan took a lot of hours on top of our classes and job searches.”

Kristi Henley ’14, Vice-President of TEN, was pleased with the success of the event. She added “From my perspective, a really polished and professional event. “All of the presentations were some of the best we’ve all seen at Thunderbird. Everyone who presented did an amazing job! The event itself was really nice. Four alumni came back to judge the event and we also had Steve Larsen, Entrepreneur in Residence, present at the presentations. It was a great event for Thunderbird! Really professional and positive. I hope all the teams’ really launch their business ideas and succeed!”

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