Imagine standing in front of group of people telling them about your awesome new idea. An idea for a business.
But it’s not just a business idea. It’s an innovative new product. It’s a much-needed service.
It’s your blood, sweat and tears. It’s all you’ve been working on for months on end.
It’s your future.
It’s your dream.
Now imagine this group is an audience. A big audience. An audience made up of your friends, family, peers, professors and complete strangers.
An audience that is headed by a panel of judges who are hanging on your every word, wondering if this business idea of yours could possibly be the next big thing. Wondering if they should choose you to win enough money to send your business charging forward to the next level.
Sounds intense, right?
On April 5, 2013, this was the scene for six entrepreneurs who stood on a stage in front of 1,000 people to pitch their businesses in hopes of winning the $50,000 grand prize at the Cupid’s Cup business competition. The stage glowed red. Red for the University of Maryland. Red for determination. The color filtered through the auditorium at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, setting the mood and the tension for the battle of the businesses that ensued.
First up: David Marriott pitching his business, CoverPlay LLC, maker of an ultra-thin Bluetooth speaker for mobile devices called the Mojo.
Six minutes and his time was up.
Next up: Sean Virgile pitching his company, Diagnostic anSERS, the maker of ink-jet printed sensors for detecting trace amounts of chemicals, from explosives to narcotics.
He was followed by duo Phil Weiner and John Gorby. They presented their pitch: Earth Starter LLC, the maker of products to accelerate and simplify growth and yield for gardens.
Contestants No. 4: Noah Gostout and Nicholas Barron. They stood on stage sledge-hammer-in-hand to pitch their business, Hole Patch LLC, the developer of a new method for patching potholes.
No. 5: Thomas Brady, who presented his business Moolaguides.com, a study tool for college students that monetarily rewards academic effort.
Leo Petrossian closed out the competition by presenting his business, Neural Analytics, a developer of a portable non-invasive medical device to diagnose traumatic brain injuries on the football field or the battlefield.
Phew. It’s over. Or is it? Each entrepreneur or entrepreneur team is grilled by the judges. Then it’s time to deliberate.
On this panel of judges sits Kevin Plank, an alumnus of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and CEO and Founder of Under Armour. In addition to a $50,000 grand prize is access to Plank’s network.
Yeah. It just got real.
“The attitude of entrepreneurship – its more than an idea. It’s the ability to believe you can make it happen. When we look at these entrepreneurs, we are looking for great business ideas. We’re a looking for concepts that can be the next great brand, the next great innovation,” Plank told them. “We’re looking for THE entrepreneur. We are looking for THE ONE.”
Finally, after months of preparation, after 360 seconds of standing in front of gobs of people staring at you, yes, you, the competition came to an end and the winners are announced.
Third Place: Diagnostic anSERS.
Second Place: Coverplay.
And the winner of the 8th Annual Cupid’s Cup Competition and the audience choice award... The winner of $52,500 and access to Plank’s network... The winner is… Earth Starter LLC.
Aim for greatness. The slogan for this year’s competition and the three words that set the bar all those involved. And aim for greatness they all did.
Stay tuned for next year’s Cupid’s Cup competition sponsored by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Until then, game on.
Jessica Smith, Internal Communications Manager, Office of Marketing Communications