Battle of the Pitches

Apparently, elevators aren’t only good for covert co-worker hook ups

Madonna had four minutes to save the world, but budding entrepreneurs only had one to pitch their revolutionary business ideas.

There was no lack of creativity at this year’s “Imagine, Invent, Impact: Harvard College Innovation Challenge,” sponsored by Harvard Entrepreneurial Forum, Harvard Student Agencies, and Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard. The business suit was a rare sight as a sweatshirt-donning college crowd filled Fong auditorium to half capacity on Saturday.

HEF Co-President David Kosslyn ’11 explained the concept behind the competition as “having your boss’s boss’s boss in the elevator with you and that’s all the time you have to pitch an idea.”

After 30 proposals in the first round, closet Facebook stalkers delighted in the idea of more online social networking tools, while starry-eyed idealists rejoiced over non-profit organization schemes. And for the chocoholics, David B. Belanger ’09 appealed to their sweet tooth with his cornerless brownie rotisserie. “It’s a cylinder that rotates in your oven so that there are no corners,” he described to the chuckling onlookers.

After the original propositions were made (and some shot down), 10 contestants were left to battle it out in the second round—hit for hit, jab for jab, flow chart for flow chart. The audience became actively involved, voting on note cards for their favorite innovator.

Ultimately, the judges and audience agreed to crown Nick J. Navarro ’10 as the 2008 champion and awarded him $500 for his proposal, Meshconnect, which “aims to assist China by offering a new mesh technology that will reduce Wi-Fi costs by a factor of 10.”

Now that these entrepreneurs have a little more cash in their pockets, the elevator doors have opened and its time to sell their ideas to the rest of the world.