Want to hear about innovative business ideas that utilize modern technology from USD students? If so, it’ll be worth your while to attend a free event this Thursday night when four student entrepreneur groups try to persuade three angel investors to part with a total of $15,000 for their idea.
USD students Max Ball, Chase Yost, Michael Giesbrecht and Gino Ferrand will pitch their businesses, Approach Mobile, Bottle Talk, SCOTO and Venturely, respectively, as finalists for the inaugural V2 (Venture Vetting) Pitch Deck competition. The event begins at 6:20 p.m. in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice.
Stephan Aarstol, a 1999 USD MBA alumnus who appeared on the March 16 episode of the ABC-TV reality show “Shark Tank,” opens the event with a presentation about his entrepreneurial experience. Aarstol is likely to discuss his “Shark Tank” appearance, which is similar to the V2 competition. On the show, Aarstol succeeded in having billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, agree to invest in his Pacific Beach-based company, Tower Paddle Boards.
The student competition begins at 7 p.m. with 10-minute presentations to an investor’s panel that consists of Kathleen Parker, Hans Petersen (USD MBA alum) and Andy Laats. Once the four presentations are completed, each student will then have 10 minutes of one-on-one time with each investor, starting at 8:05 p.m. Investors will then meet to make a decision, returning with it at approximately 9:20 p.m.
“This event will be a special learning experience and should be dramatic and engaging,” said USD Professor Mike Lawless, who teaches entrepreneurship courses in the School of Business Administration and serves as advisor for USD’s Entrepreneurship Club. “It’s a pleasure to create this canvas for students to present their ideas. All four finalists’ ideas use technology to provide value to customers and information in an easy-to-access way.”
The four finalists vying for $15,000, which was provided courtesy of USD alumni Tom Breitling ‘91 and Lorenzo Fertitta ‘91 and Andy and Liz Laats, emerged from 18 entries that were judged and scored by a panel, Lawless said. V2 hosted two workshops to introduce the competition, which is open to all students on campus. He added that the educational value for students — even those who weren’t finalists, but did apply and who could be in the audience on Thursday night — will be worthwhile as it unfolds.
Ball, a business marketing major, leads off the presentation schedule at 7 p.m. discussing Approach Mobile, a mobile application development business. Ball, who started the business with a friend, Keyan Taji, launched the company last summer. According to V2’s promotional information, in eight months, Approach Mobile has closed on $120,000 in mobile app development projects with clients such as Hertz and The Ken Blanchard Companies, a global leader in workplace learning, productivity, and leadership training solutions.
Yost, the lone non-business major among the finalist presenters — he’s a senior International Relations major — is the founder, president and CEO of Bottle Talk. His 7:15 p.m. presentation will demonstrate how his business, through smartphones and the Internet, allows Bottle Talk to create a personal connection between wine consumers and winemakers. Through a QR code on bottles of wine, Bottle Talk and its network can provide a personal business bond to help drive sales and marketing.
SCOTO is a mobile application that five USD MBA students from Lawless’ Fall 2011 entrepreneurship class, including Giesbrecht, created for a final project. Their application allows consumers to use their cell phone camera to take photos and scan items they come across, and organizes them into folders so they can be accessed online. SCOTO’s pitch begins at 7:30 p.m.
Venturely, started by USD senior business students Gino Ferrand and Yannick Schindler, will be presented at 7:45 p.m. Their business idea “bridges the gap between venture capital and college start-ups across the country,” according to its V2 synopsis. It’s an online networking platform to give college entrepreneurs with ideas the chance to have better resources and collaboration tools to enhance start-up ideas, help them connect with potential investors and offers ways to grow their businesses.
— Ryan T. Blystone
Check out more about the V2 Pitch Deck Competition on its Facebook page.