Three years from now, you might be using a product that came to life on Friday.
Friday afternoon was the finals of the Shocker New Venture Competition at Wichita State University’s Devlin Hall.
Four teams were trying to pass beyond the “Gee, that’s a cool concept” to “Let me get my checkbook” as the competition awarded $34,000.
The contestants were:
It was presented by CEO Heidi VanRavenhorst-Bell, a WSU doctoral student and instructor in exercise science. WSU professors Jeremy Patterson and Jibo He are also owners.
The four emerged from a crowded field of prospective entrepreneurs. Every team that made it to last week’s trade show received $100; and every team that made to this week’s round of eight received $250.
The four teams made pitches to veteran judges from the community who – politely – asked probing questions, such as: What specifically makes your product different and better than your competitors? What actually is patentable? How specifically does the technology work?
This year’s competition is different from earlier WSU student business competitions because it emphasizes businesses with the potential for rapid growth, rather than just ones that could become profitable.
All four teams said they plan to move forward with their business plans.
Pocket Closet’s Roberts said she is seeking the $400,000 she estimates is needed to take Pocket Closet from a prototype and business plan to a real commercial product. She has made connections in Wichita’s tech community, but said she may have to head to the West Coast to chase financing and technical experience.
“I don’t have a job lined up after college,” she told the judges. “This what I want to do … I am 100 percent committed to this. I’m passionate.”