Finalists Compete Today in WCU’s Virtual Business Idea Pitch Presented by Meridian Bank

business idea competition

Anyone who wants to start a business should watch budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas in the annual Business Idea Competition hosted by West Chester University’s Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center.

These finalists will compete virtually today, April 14, from 5-6:30 PM in a live event before a panel of judges that consists of angel investors, entrepreneurs, and business advisors. See what makes a winning business proposal by registering and attending the free online event.

Sponsored by the Cottrell Center, the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic, and the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, the WCU Business Idea Competition promotes creativity and idea generation by recognizing innovative ideas for new products, services, and technology. 

Now in its ninth year, this competition draws entries in four categories:

  • WCU undergraduates
  • WCU graduate students, faculty/staff, and alumni
  • Chester County high school students
  • Chester County startups

The top six ideas from each track submitted a two-minute video in a virtual fast pitch competition on March 25. This year’s panel of judges selected the following to advance to the finals: 

WCU Undergraduate Track 

  • Jake Henry: LECTRA, combines kinesiology tape with electric muscle stimulation 
  • Nate Gittleman: Fog Frogs, an attachment for eyeglasses to prevent fogging, particularly helpful when wearing a mask 

WCU Graduate, Alumni, Faculty & Staff 

  • Talonda Rogers and Gina Torrie: LISTEN App provides healthcare and coaching to women during pregnancy 
  • Robert Lowrie: Smart Route, an application for salespeople to help them map their route and keep accurate notes 

Chester County High School Students 

  • Arparna Vagvala, Downingtown STEM High School: Healthy Habits – The Ruko Ring, a Smart Ring worn on a finger to alert the wearer when you are touching your face.  
  • Kathryn Palmer and Jake Coombe, West Chester East High School: Safe Away, an insulated locked box to protect packages that are delivered to your home 

Chester County Startups 

  • Gene Williams: Athletes Untapped, a web service that matches young athletes with private coaches 
  • John Scott: MDSB Innovations, a multi-dimensional sports bet application 

The presenting sponsor for this year’s Business Idea Competition is Meridian Bank. Univest Financial is the gold sponsor. 

Pattie Diggin, director of the Cottrell Center, reported that all the ideas submitted this year were promising. Her message to those not making it to the finals: “I encourage you to continue to work on your business idea and to connect with the Cottrell Center for potential support that we might provide.” 

Diggin also noted that the Cottrell Center will launch its first Social Innovation Competition this fall. Qualifying business ideas will demonstrate some benefit for social or environmental issues. She said the Cottrell Center team has been gauging the growth of this entrepreneurial field in recent years.

“This past year has put a focus on it,” said Diggin. “We have seen … acceleration due to COVID.”

The Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center fosters entrepreneurship across West Chester University and throughout Chester County by preparing students to contribute to the entrepreneurship ecosystem, providing access to a rich network of entrepreneurship resources, and enhancing the startup and growth of new ventures to develop a strong WCU entrepreneurship culture and a vibrant Chester County entrepreneurship ecosystem.  

State System Startup Challenge

Also, Diggin noted, WCU students have done well in this year’s Startup Challenge hosted by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. She will moderate the virtual competition on Wednesday, April 21 at 7 PM

Two WCU students have advanced to the final round:

  • Connor Wagner: The D.A.R.T., a product to help with defensive lineman drills in football
  • Emma Wagner: Wear To Go, a clothing service that provides information on what to wear when traveling

Plus, three student teams have advanced to the semifinal round: 

  • Grace McDonough and Dylan Martin: Rent U, a web-based application to support off-campus housing for WCU students
  • Emma Wagner: Ever Décor, a rental service for home accessories and seasonal decorations
  • Matthew Zwilgmeyer: Auto Saddle, a DYI car roof rack

The Cottrell Center and West Chester University are sponsoring the PASSHE State System Startup Challenge this year and the university is sponsoring the fourth-place prize of $1,500.

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