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Five entrepreneurs fund their businesses at the elevator pitch competition

Chloe Wilson-Henline
Lauren Hoggins, owner of Trust Your Strength, pitching her business idea to the panel of judges.

Editor’s Note: Ronika Marandi, who won $350 in the competition, serves as a digital tech for The Kent Stater and KentWired. Given her role and relationship to the story, KentWired interviewed her as a source.

On Thursday, eighteen entrepreneurs pitched their business plans at the tenth annual elevator pitch competition in the Design Innovation Hub.

LaunchNET hosted the competition, giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to win funds from a prize pool of $3,000. LaunchNET helps students, staff and alumni transform their ideas into businesses through meetings, mentoring, workshops and events. 

The event featured 18 entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to a panel of three judges.

Alizeh Khalifa, marketing manager of LaunchNET, helped with the production of the competition. Originally, the competition was done by recording the elevator pitches and then playing them for the judges. This is the second year the competition has been done live and in-person.

“It’s cool to see where the competition has gone,” Khalifa said. “It helps build a better community for people.”

LaunchNET also hosts pre-competition events, like Pitch and Ponder, to help entrepreneurs lay the groundwork for pitches and receive feedback from other entrepreneurs and LaunchNET staff. 

“Pitch and Ponder is a chance for entrepreneurs to talk through their pitch and business before the competition,” said Mary Jewell, the student events coordinator.

Each entrepreneur received 90 seconds to pitch their business idea to three judges. The judges then deliberated and chose their five winners. 

Entrepreneurs in every industry had the opportunity to pitch their ideas. Ideas like mobile food carts, clothing brands, digital media businesses, physical products and online courses were pitched to the judges.

Meagen Ferrell, a doctoral student at Kent State, pitched her online education course. This was her first elevator pitch competition. She explained the emotions that come with presenting a business idea.

“Anxiety and excitement are the same emotion,” Ferrell said. “It’s just how you approach it.”

The five winners of the competition were Kaitlyn Phillips, Lauren Hoggins, Aaron Rombach, Ronika Miranda and Audrey Ernst.

Kaitlyn Phillips and Aubrey Ernst each received a top prize of $1,000.

Ronika Marandi, a sophomore marketing major, pitched her digital marketing agency to the judges. Marandi is the owner of Powerhouse Digital Marketing, an agency dedicated to digital marketing for small businesses. 

Marandi won $350 to go toward her business. She plans to use this money toward reaching out to clients and advertising her business. 

Marandi made last-minute plans to attend the event. She came straight from work and wrote her pitch on a scrap piece of paper.

“I had to take an action step and not let this just be an idea in my head,” Marandi said. “It was either make up my pitch right now and go, or I’ll never end up doing it.”

The elevator pitch competition gave entrepreneurs like Marandi a chance to elevate their business ventures and take them to the next level.

Chloe Wilson-Henline is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Chloe Wilson-Henline, Opinion Writer and Social Media Tech
Chloe is a junior majoring in public relations with a minor in marketing. This is her first year with KentWired, and she enjoys writing about pop culture. Contact her at [email protected]

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