Innovation Challenge, Big Pitch offers students chances for cash awards

Photo courtesy of Glendale Community College website

Entrepreneurial students at Glendale Community College will have the opportunity to unleash their competitive side with two upcoming events: the Innovation Challenge and a district-wide, follow up, the Big-Pitch.

There will be new pitches every day, until the day of the Innovation Challenge, Feb. 18 from 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Big Pitch will follow about a month later, March 24. Both events are scheduled to be completely online while offering recognition, learning, and networking opportunities for all involved.

The Innovation Challenge invites students to share a dream business plan with the purpose of either profit or non-profit business products and services. The top winners will earn $2,500, $1,500, and $1,000 respectively.

Subsequently will be the competition known as the Big Pitch. This is a district-wide competition. Students can only advance by being one the Innovation Challenge winners from respective community colleges within Maricopa County Community College District.

Participants will spend their spring break in an accelerated education program to turn their ideas and dreams into practical proposals for the Big Pitch. The students will then compete to win a grand prize of $20,000, in cash and one year of coaching from the Center of Entrepreneurial Innovation, as stated on the Innovation Challenge web page.

One-on-one mentorship is available for student assistance. “All of the Big Pitch lessons are presented by the subject matter experts, giving participants that opportunity to build connections with business professionals who can offer guidance during the week,” CEI said on their website.

Mary-Elizabeth Gilbertson, last year’s winner of the Innovation challenge at GCC, pitched a service of pre-assessment for children to learn of their strengths and weaknesses academically. She designed a plan that included evaluating test-taking skills and self-assessments for better a reflection of future goals. She wanted to configure a personalized study and/or tutoring program unique to each child. Twenty percent of the profits would go into scholarship programs for a wider access for students who could not afford the program, Gilbertson said in an interview.

The past winner of the 2020 Big Pitch Challenge was a Phoenix College student named Milene Kibler. Kibler is the founder of Concordia Designs LLC. “Her lifelong passion for furniture led her on a journey from Mexico to the United States. After a career working in the industry in both countries, she was finally ready to launch her dream business,” CEI said on their website.

After her win, Kibler also received help with her company from CEI and other competition sponsors to help launch Concordia Designs LLC. Other sponsors included: Arizona Public Service, Mayer Project 7, Goodwin, Woods Oviatt Gilman LLC, and Gateway Community College.

In preparation for the Big Pitch competition all participants worked together on their individual pitches. “Even though we are competing against each other we’re a team and that we’re working together, and it was a very confident boosting experience,” Gilbertson said in the Big Pitch 2020 video.

This event is meant for all its participants to grow and acclimate to new height of their professional careers.