By: Amanda Carroll, Staff Writer
In the style of the popular ABC show “Shark Tank,” eight students came together Wednesday, Oct. 25, for the qualifying round of the Tiger Cage pitch competition to see which business idea would make it to the finals.
Judging the competition was a panel of two entrepreneurs, Grace Caltrider and Jinji Fraser.
Caltrider is the Vice President of Digital Marketing for Zest Social Media Solutions, a digital marketing agency whose headquarters is located in downtown Towson.
Fraser is a local chocolatier who owns the Pure Chocolate Shop by Jinji at the Belvedere Square Market, and whose products can be found around the area in grocery stores and coffee shops.
The competition’s rules were simple: each student had two minutes to pitch their business. No visual aids could be used, and only the top three students could move on to the final round.
The business pitches ranged from an eco-friendly apparel company and an informational interview podcast, to an electric longboard rental company and a company focused on connecting content creators.
On the line was a grand prize of $500 and the winner’s pick of a consulting package from one of three companies: The StartUp, EdTech and the Student Launch Pad. Second prize would be $300 and a consulting package from the remaining companies after the winner made their selection.
Judging was based on overall presentation, persuasiveness and content.
The three finalists selected were Trey Mick, Ken Musika and Kendall Gant.
Mick’s company, The Green Light Experience, is focused on educating people around the legality and usage of medical and recreational cannabis. He came up with the idea for this company after “noticing the lack of knowledge and negative stereotypes surrounding cannabis,” which made him want “to change people’s views on this.”
An app to connect university clubs and organizations onto one platform – VENUE – was the focus of Musika’s pitch. Noticing that “many students and faculty have the same problem.” of not knowing what events are being held on campus, Musika described how he would base his app on a subscription model and “intend[s] for the app to reach to other campuses and firms across the nation.”
Gant’s business proposal was The Local Bean, a café and marketplace in Talbot County where she would sell local products. According to her, working at a local ice cream shop in high school “inspired me to create a community-based business idea” because “making connections within our community is easily one of the best parts about working for a small business.”
In selecting the three finalists, Caltrider acknowledged that all participants “had great ideas.”
“We both were surprised how it [deciding the finalists] shook up in the end,” Fraser said.
All three finalists described the experience as a mix of excitement and fear.
Musika admitted that pitching his idea in front of “experienced people in the entrepreneurial field kept me on my toes.”
“When you pitch in front of judges and a crowd, you have to be vulnerable in sharing something you feel passionate about,” Gant said. “It felt like a huge risk for me. Leading up to it I was very nervous but once I started pitching, it just flowed and felt natural.”
Mick said it was through his classmates’ support that it got easier to pitch his business model.
“It gets a little easier each time I have to pitch my ideas,” he said.
Caltrider closed by saying that she did not have an experience [like Tiger Cage] at her university, and that she would have benefitted from an experience like this.
Tiger Cage project lead and Enactus member Garrett Thorne agreed that Tiger Cage gives students a platform to showcase and improve their business ideas.
“[Tiger Cage] is a great opportunity to get your idea out there and get feedback to use in the future,” Thorne said.
The competition was hosted by Towson’s Enactus chapter, which promotes opportunities for students to use entrepreneurship to design and implement projects to solve problems on campus and in the community.
According to Thorne, the idea for the pitch competition came from an Enactus member who has since graduated.
“Every year the pitches have gotten better,” said Enactus Vice President of Projects Meredith Price “This year the students were very prepared with great speeches and great ideas.”
Thorne describes the experience of managing the competition as “rewarding” because Tiger Cage has made an impact on many students since its start.
“I look forward to seeing what will happen in the final round and where these students will take their ideas,” he said.
The final round of the competition is open to the public and will take place Nov. 1, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Stephens Hall, Room 310.
Finalists will pitch their business for five minutes, then answer judge’s questions for an additional five minutes. Price added that “there will also be free food and entertainment groups in the next round.”