Feb 18, 2019

Entrepreneurs compete in pitch competition

From left to right: Eric Rawn, second place winner Daniel Dittus,
first place winner Clifton Wahlberg, third place Forrest Miller
and Matt Cholakian.
Courtesy of CEO advisor Eric Liguori

On Wednesday, Sept. 28 Fresno State’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization club, held an elevator pitch contest in the Lyles Center where Fresno State accounting student Clifton Wahlberg’s idea to facilitate cheaper real estate paperwork won first place.

This semester, over a dozen students presented their entrepreneur ideas in about a 90-second contest to a panel of judges as well as about 20 observers.

Wahlberg was awarded with an engraved trophy, one-on-one time to consult with local experts so that he can perfect his pitch and a paid trip to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the CEO National Elevator Pitch Competition that will take place on Oct. 27 to 29.

Daniel Dittus, a business major and exchange student from Germany, won second place for his idea of putting energy supplements into ice cubes. He was awarded with a partially funded trip to the CEO National Elevator Pitch Competition as well as a certificate of recognition.

Forrest Miller, an entrepreneurship major, won third place for his idea of putting juice bars into gyms and was also awarded with a certificate of recognition.

“Our goal for this contest is always to send someone to nationals,” said Sammi Escalera, an entrepreneurship major and vice president of the CEO club.

The elevator pitch idea is based on the metaphor of running into someone in an elevator and trying to sell them an idea in a short amount of time.

Escalera, a senior, has been a club member of CEO since the fall 2010 semester. She said that last semester there were only about seven students who pitched.

Eric Rawn and Matt Cholakian served as judges.

Rawn, a Craig School of Business alumnus, is the founder for a network consulting firm called BCT Consulting. He is also a member of Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s Technology Affinity Group.

Cholakian is also a Craig School of Business alumnus. He currently works as an account manager for Brenntag Pacific, a global chemical and commodity distributor.

Compared to previous years, CEO club members said that this semester’s contest had a better turnout.

“Normally we have less students than this year,” CEO president Adam Whitney said. “We also had a larger range of majors this time.”

Students presenting a pitch were judged on their ability to capture the audience’s attention, their ability to make the audience interested and their overall idea and presentation methods.

Finance and business law professor Patricia LaRosa attended the contest because she wanted to observe the presentation abilities of the students pitching.

“I teach an upper division course that meets the writing requirement,” LaRosa said. “I’m here because I wanted to see how the student did their presentations, the quality and the language skills.”

Whitney said that the main purpose of CEO and the competition is to provide students with networking possibilities and practice.

“We try to provide a networking club and events for pretty much all majors so it’s more of a network for pre-professionals,” Whitney said. “The goal is for students to be able to effectively communicate a complex idea in a short amount of time. It’s an effective selling technique that will help later in life in any area.”

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