Business students pitch ideas at 2016 Swim with the Sharks

Nine students from UW-Eau Claire and India vie for approval from panel of local business experts

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DIY diaries
May 9, 2018

Photo by Erica Jones

Judges watched Eggen deliver his winning presentation on a business called Sip’npedal that combines bicycle service with the atmosphere of a hometown coffee shop.

At UW-Eau Claire’s third annual Swim With The Sharks Tournament, a group of students dove into the waters of entrepreneurship and hoped they wouldn’t get bit.

Four students from Eau Claire and five from Shri Ram College of Commerce at Delhi University presented business plans to expert judges Thursday at the RCU Corporate Center in downtown Eau Claire. Students competed to win prizes and gain valuable experience pitching ideas in business settings.

Here were the rules of the competition:

— Presenters were required to introduce themselves and their business titles.

— Presenters each had two minutes to explain their ideas to a panel of three judges.

— After the two minutes were up, they then were allowed a three-minute question and answer session with the judges.

— Following all the business proposals, the judges came together to choose one winner from Eau Claire and one from Shri Ram.

Optional aspects of the presentations included the use of visual mediums such as PowerPoint slides and the fact that students’ companies could opt to be nonprofit or for-profit.

Char Gurney of Royal Credit Union, Robert Krause of Musky Tank, LLC, and Shane Beck of FitElite served as judges for the event.

Gurney said prior to the competition she expected a lot of energy and great ideas from the students present.

“I truly expect them to blow us away,” she said. “From my experience, they’re very good at what they do.”

She said events of this nature are good experiences for students to have because they teach the art of entrepreneurship and the community, in turn, benefits from entrepreneurship-related activities.

Kimberly Williams, a junior Eau Claire student with an entrepreneurship minor, said her idea is one she’s had in the back of her mind for a long time. As a child care teacher at Little Star Daycare, Williams wants to create a staffing service that employs qualified teachers, assistant teachers, aids and other child care providers to companies that need positions filled.

She said this company, StepPing In, provides employees for on-demand, same-day, short-term, long-term, temporary and permanent placement to childcare businesses.

“Child care is a revolving door,” Williams said, “Teachers come and go and positions don’t stay filled for very long. That’s one of the problems I noticed and it’s still a problem to this day. This is a way to resolve it.”

Eau Claire student Mattie Kahn said before the event he wanted to be surprised and hear something he didn’t expect as a member of the audience. He also said he was interested to see how cultural differences affected the ideas presented.

“I’m excited to hear how American ideas compare against the ideas from the exchange students from India. I think that’ll be really cool,” he said.

After nine presentations and a brief deliberation period the judges announced the winners.

The winner from Shri Ram was Atharva Mittal, who proposed an app that compiles data on colleges and universities so prospective students can find the post-secondary school that fits them best.

Mittal said his app, Admission Guru, would allow students to make a profile with their interests, including areas of study, other academic metrics, extracurricular activities and more. The app  would then take this information and compile a list of schools that meet these specific criteria, thereby making it easier for students to find the educational environment best suited for their skills and interests.

The winning student from Eau Claire was Keilor Eggen whose proposal was a combination of a coffee house and bike repair shop called Sip’npedal. During his presentation, Eggen said his goal was to create a place where cyclists could go to meet up with friends over a cup of coffee before or after a bike ride.

“There are other local bike shops, yes, but none of them are offering a place to gather, for people to just sit, socialize, chitchat with mechanics without feeling kind of in the way,” Eggen said.

The business, he said, would offer great service from within the bicycle industry in a hometown coffee shop atmosphere.

Eggen said he already has an investor who is interested, but he looked to the panel of judges for expertise and support for his business, which potentially could open as early as 2017 in downtown Eau Claire.