Center right: Jim Henry and Andrew Foreman, cricket ranchers (read more below), were awarded first place at the finals round of the 2018 Washburn University Pitch Competition.

The final round of Washburn University's Build Your Future - Pitch Competition, presented by Washburn University School of Business and GO Topeka, took place on November 15. The final five student teams pitched their ideas for new products and services to a full house in the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center. A panel of judges was also in attendance to deliberated on the unique pitches, which included everything from a business card app using geofencing, a mobile glass blowing unit, to cricket ranching. The finalists were awarded $24,500 in cash prizes. 

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The Pitch Competition is in its fifth year and includes students from various disciplines from the university as well as the Washburn Institute of Technology. "As we were developing our entrepreneurship program, several Washburn faculty members visited top programs across the country to learn what made them successful. Pitch competitions were a common part of the extracurricular activities of the top programs," says David Sollars, dean of the Washburn School of Business. "We view it as a chance for students to think through a business idea and then boil it down to its essentials for a 3 minute pitch."

Sollars confides that it's the learning experience that matters the most, not immediate success. 

"Most of the ideas pitched won’t go anywhere—but even students who end up with a not-so-great idea go through the process and learn from it. We try to instill in them something that successful entrepreneurship often tell us was key: the idea of iterate and fail, iterate and fail, iterate and succeed." 

For five consecutive years GO Topeka served as a key sponsor of the Pitch Competition. 

Glenda Washington, senior vice president of GO Topeka's Entrepreneurial & Minority Business Development, expressed that their sponsorship is intended to serve as an investment “not only in the next generation of entrepreneurs but also in the entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus and in the local community."

The Results of the 2018 Pitch Competition

1st Place ($8,000) - Jim Henry and Andrew Foreman, Cricket Ranchers

Henry and Foreman presented a entomophagy business that creates cricket powder for human consumption. 

2nd Place ($6,000) - Aneliz Lemon, Journey Glass

Lemon proposed a mobile glass unit used to teach the art of glass making. 

3rd Place ($4,000) - Taylor Jacobson and Connor Bigham

Jacobson and Bigham extrapolated on their idea for an air compressor attachment use to clean farm equipment. 

4th Place ($2,000) - Wesley Collins

Collins presented a business model that provides commercial services with drone technology. 

5th Place ($1,000) - Jermaine Adams

Adams proposed a business card app that utilizes geofencing and near-field communications. 

Additional Prizes 

The Top Freshman Entry ($1,000 prize) went to Abigail McCrory for her pitch Mombox, a care package subscription box for college students. Jerrod Ruiz, Chelsea Brown and Lori Wormstadt were awarded the Top Washburn Institute of Technology Entry ($2,500 prize) for their idea: Cupcakes by Design, a cupcake food truck that provides customized treats.