In early November, the UCCS College of Business (COB) and the National Institute for Social Impact (NI4SI) worked together to host a Social Impact Business Pitch Night. This pitch competition was created to bring together UCCS student entrepreneurs and community leaders. With $5,000 in cash prizes up for grabs, the stakes were high.
For students to be eligible to compete, they must be creating a social impact business – a business with a clearly stated higher purpose and culture the exists to solve a social issue and considers commercial and social goals to be equally critical in the business.
Out of a pool of applicants, representatives from the UCCS College of Business and the National Institute for Social Impact selected four applicants to present at the Social Impact Business Pitch Night.
Of the four businesses, three are currently enrolled in The Garage at UCCS; the fourth is a Bachelor of Innovation major. The Garage is the startup incubator on the UCCS campus. Created to assist UCCS students building business, The Garage provides a platform for students to grow in their entrepreneurial journey. It focuses on formulating, refining and implementing ideas, as well as providing students with a stimulating and collaborative environment.
Each student entrepreneur was given 10 minutes to pitch, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A, during which there were no shortage of questions from the audience. After deliberation over the next two days, the winners were notified by email. The Garage at UCCS took the top three spots:
- Alicia Martinez from Sparked by Nature took first and the $3,000 cash prize. Sparked by Nature is a new approach to therapy for emotionally challenged students that combines elements of free play and traditional therapy methods.
- David Osnas from EcoBricks took second and the $1,500 cash prize. EcoBricks aims to clean up the environment by repurposing trash into building material for commercial and residential applications.
- Ethan Thompson from Forevergreen Tech took third and the $500 cash prize. Forevergreen Tech aims to shift consumer behaviors by gamifying easy to accomplish tasks revolving around sustainable actions. By giving the power to consumers, small actions compound into huge impacts.
The fourth competitor, Hannah Bernard, shared her vision for a multi-dimensional homeless shelter to address an array of needs for those hoping to find housing, work and healing.
The Social Impact Business Pitch Night was a valuable opportunity for all involved, pulling together aspects of the Colorado Springs business community, UCCS programs and UCCS students. The resulting collaboration was fun, forward thinking and rewarding for all who participated.