A Perfect Pitch

UW-Eau Claire business students pitch ideas at The Local Store


Photo by Andrea Montgomery

Tomas Benzo pitches his idea for ABC Hospitality to a panel of judges and an audience of classmates.

Volume One hosted its own brand of Shark Tank where aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a panel of local business owners on April 29 in hopes of having their ideas recognized.

“The judges were charged with selecting the best business pitch,” said Ann Rupnow, the entrepreneur program coordinator. “They were given the eight key slide categories that students were covering and additional criteria, such as flow of pitch, authenticity and rapport.”

Students in the class were taught how to produce and give convincing business pitches and deliver them in a competitive and professional environment.

The judging panel consisted of local business owners and entrepreneurs. They either asked questions or gave students feedback based on their pitch. One of the judges is Becca Cooke, the founding principle of Cooke Strategies, a democratic fundraising consulting firm on north Dewey street.

Morning presentations began at 8:45 a.m. and ran until noon. Ten students presented in the morning and 10 more presented in the afternoon session from 12:45-4 p.m.

Seniors Emily Halvarson and Kelsey Czlatdko are both business management students with an entrepreneurial emphasis. They pitched the idea of K & E’s Daycare in Eau Claire as a team.

“It’s cool to get to do our pitches in front of the community; get an aspect of giving a real business pitch to real business owners,” Halvarson said. “That’s a really cool aspect that the entrepreneurial program offers as opposed to just doing our presentations in a classroom.”

Czlatdko said some of the judges follow up with students if they are interested in the idea in their business pitch.

“(For) some people, this is their big idea and they just want to run with it so they want to pitch individually because that’s how they want to do it in the future,” she said.

The winners were selected based on the strength and quality of their pitches. Dan Beck and Nick Brekken won the morning session with their pitch for Midwest Meals and Leah Pronschinske won with her pitch for Affogato Cafe in the afternoon session.

Diane Hoadley, dean of the College of Business, and Kristy Lauver, chair of the management and marketing department both gave greetings at the event.