Fast Pitch competition highlights student startup ideas

The University of Memphis recently played host to the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship’s inaugural Fast Pitch Competition. The Shark Tank style contest included 15 competitors from UofM who had five minutes each to convince the three judges their idea was worth the investment.

Although the Crews Center has previously held similar competitions, this one was a bit different according to Mike Hoffmeyer, the Director of the Crews Center. “This is the first pitch-only competition that we have conducted at UofM. Previously we conducted a couple of “Startup Weekend”-style events with a short pitch at the end with similar judging and smaller prizes.”

Any student could enter the Fast Pitch Competition this year and compete, but next year there will be a qualifying round in order to control the length of the live event. Next year contestants will have to submit a video of their pitch in a semifinal round and the finalists will be selected from those submissions.

Hoffmeyer said the contest has been going since August but most of the students were probably unaware of the event until marketing materials were put out. “Most competitors started working on their pitches around mid-March and participated in pitch workshops the last week of March and first week of April,” he said.

Charles Rodgers won first place and $2,500 with his idea TutorFly. Second place went to Jason Stewart along with $1,500 for his pitch of Glory 2 God, a Christian athletic apparel start-up.

“We want to give athletes an apparel that represents what they stand for in life, because we are grateful for the opportunity to play, compete and give God all the glory in everything they do,” said Stewart.

Catrell Maclin received $1,000 for third place with Ulitmate Memphis Preps Television which was started to help Memphis athletes get recruited on a national level. Maclin said, “The competition is good for young entrepreneurs and is a great platform to validate your company, but one to also make you work harder on your idea.”


Read more articles by Lauren Turner.

Lauren Turner is a native Memphian and journalism graduate student at the University of Memphis. She is passionate about her city and the people who inhabit it. 
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