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The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Entrepreneurs encompass drive, passion, integrity and persistence. And all of these traits were celebrated at the 2018 Entrepreneurship Day (E Day) held April 4.

Visionary Dan Ritchie, the keynote speaker, imparted years of wisdom on one of the largest E Day crowds to date including around 500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

“You can change the world with an idea,” Ritchie said. “Take chances and don’t be embarrassed.”

Ritchie’s career spans Wall Street, Hollywood and higher education where he worked for organizations like Westinghouse Broadcasting, MCA, Inc. and the University of Denver. He is currently the president of the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation, which focuses on early childhood education and development. He also serves as chairman of the Daniels Fund Board, which supports programs that encourage personal responsibility and achievement by funding college scholarships and community programs.

Entrepreneur characteristics were also exemplified in the finalists competing in the Elevator Pitch at E Day. This competition allows students to pitch their ideas/inventions to a large audience and to win start-up capital.

“They work on these projects over the semester and then we do the pitch competition. It was really exciting this year since the winner is from my milestone class. He is a sophomore nursing student,” said Instructor of Business Georgann Jouflas, who facilitates the Elevator Pitch competition. “He took this idea and was amazing with how he pitched it.”

Out of 30 teams, four were chosen as finalists to compete at E Day. Sophomore Kordale Bavor won first place and $1500 in start-up capital. His invention, SaniMister, was developed to improve handwashing time and efficiency procedures in hospitals. Individuals simply move their hands into the SaniMister for two seconds to sanitize and out for two seconds to dry. Bavor asserts this invention would save time and effectively disinfect and prevent infectious diseases from spreading.

“Competing in the Elevator Pitch competition made for an incredibly exhilarating experience. The rush I felt on that stage is something that I will forever cherish,” Bavor said. “In addition, I was able to meet and learn from so many different people. My horizons have been significantly expanded.”

The other competitors’ ideas included the Tracker Arrow, redesigned motocross apparel and a shin split tool called the Shin Bar. The finalists only had a few minutes to present before E Day attendees texted in their vote for the winner. Second place was awarded to Tracker Arrow presented by Courtney Bell and Tanner Mast. Third place went to Sofa Brand (motocross apparel) presented by Austin Gonsalves and Spencer Lee. Fourth was awarded to Shin Bar (a shin splint tool) developed by Josh Levy and Peter Greco.

Some of the competitors were business students but the Elevator Pitch contest and Entrepreneurship Day reach across disciplines to include engineering students, health sciences and more.

“I have a class that is interdisciplinary and since we started working with engineers the last four years they’ve been in the top three,” Jouflas said. “I have a Coleman Entrepreneurship Fellow Program and it has allowed me to work with other faculty across campus to teach entrepreneurship.”

By winning first place, Bavor has the opportunity to compete at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, which is a national competition held later this year.

Entrepreneurship Day at CMU has been growing during the last 14 years and as cross-disciplinary work increases, Jouflas expects the event to grow.

“We’d have to find a bigger venue if want to let more people attend next year."