The competition is the culmination of a semester-long class held twice a year through the college and students work directly with Mary Ellen Kettelhut, director of entrepreneurship at the college.
“It is very fulfilling to watch these students learn through doing, that is the most fun part of this class,” Kettelhut said. “They walk in on day one and they are starting the process of starting a business by looking at problems that need to be solved. They quickly get into solution development and then we have them get into the development of the actual business.”
Students will have six minutes to pitch their business ideas before a panel of three judges and will then have time to allow questions from judges and the crowd. The winner will take home $1,000, second place will win $750 and the People’s Choice award will win $500.
Mark Gorte, a senior at Hope College, and his group started Bring Your Own Truck (B.Y.O.T.) this semester and will be presenting in the pitch competition.
For Gorte, his original idea was to do a bike share program. After looking at the Holland landscape, the idea morphed and changed into a new idea of brokering food trucks.
“I think if you are willing to stand up in front of a crowd to try to convince them in six minutes, I think that speaks volumes for itself,” Gorte said. “If you are willing to do that and take criticism, I think that is one of the most beneficial experiences you can have as a college student.”
Kettelhut said that along with B.Y.O.T., four other groups will present including Fork 2 Farm, 14 forty, Climate and ideasy.
For Kettelhut, the most exciting part of her job is seeing these students grow through the semester up to the pitch competition and then seeing how they develop once the class is over.
“It is exciting when students continue on with the evening program and launch their business and make it a career but it is equally as exciting to watch them work in teams together to try to solve problems and make that into a different career,” Kettelhut said.
“I think the students really learn a lot of life skills in our class.”