Tuyen Tram pitches her idea for a hiking backpack with accessible compartments.

Western Carolina University’s Center for the Study of Free Enterprise recently sponsored its fourth annual Pitch Party, offering WCU students who are aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their business ideas to a live audience and panel of judges.

The Pitch Party is organized by EPIC Innovation, a student initiative within the College of Business that encourages entrepreneurship through “elevating potential, imagination and collaboration.” Leading up to the event, participants work with faculty mentors to research the industry, determine relevant product content and improve presentation techniques.

For their pitch, the competitors have up to five minutes to present, and then the judges have three minutes to ask questions and critique the students’ ideas. The panel of judges determines the top three winners, but the audience also votes to nominate its favorite business idea for the People’s Choice Award. All the winners receive a trophy and cash prizes.

This year’s pitch competition had an outdoor theme in support of the Outdoor Economy Conference being hosted at WCU during the same week. All the contestants presented a business idea that related to the outdoor industry, and the winners were announced at the conference the following day, Friday, Oct. 5.

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Originally published Dec. 4, 2018.

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