The Big Idea: $50,000 awarded to student startups

Emilia Whitmer

Staff writer

$50,000 was on the line for the seven entrepreneurial teams competing head-to-head in the Big Idea’s final pitch competition held Tuesday, April 1.

 

These two- to eight-person teams, required to be at least 50 percent Colorado College students, were given 10 minutes to present their startup pitches to a panel of five distinguished judges and a nearly full Richard Celeste Theater.

 

The top prize of $25,000 was awarded to GetOutfitted, a company that rents winter sports apparel online, aiming to make outdoor activities more accessible through affordable, convenient gear rental.

 

Started by Colorado Springs resident Julian Flores, GetOutfitted plans to use their winnings to expand their product and customer base in order to tap into the $53 billion ski outfitting industry.

 

“The money is going to pay to launch our affiliate network starting this month,” said Marcel Gremaud, a Colorado College student who has been interning for GetOutfitted since its inception.

 

“This means we are going to be reaching out to ski resorts all around the country to get exposure to new customers,” Gremaud said, projecting their efforts will reach over 200,000 potential new customers and lead to $400,000 in revenue next season.

 

With the help of Gremaud and fellow CC student Alex FitzGerald, along with $100,000 in seed money previously raised from individual investors, GetOutfitted already boasts a functioning website and solid stock of gear that has led to sales around the country.

 

According to Patrick Bultema, Executive Director of the Big Idea, the judges focused on three major criteria in selecting the winning teams: the innovation of the idea, its probability of success, and finally, if it did succeed, the probability a significant and influential outcome.

In order to evaluate the groups based on these criteria, the judges assessed the potential of the members of the assembled teams, the mentors that may be involved, and the progress they have already made on their product.

 

The rules of the Big Idea encourage students to have visible progress on their startup going into the final pitch contest, on the condition that they have not made more than $1 million in revenue or previously received more than $250,000 in funding.

 

The second place prize of $15,000 was awarded to KoldSnap, a company started by CC students Azeem Sola and Usaama Alnaji who developed a web-based, automatic monitoring system for commercial refrigeration.

 

Their service will provide businesses with a convenient and inexpensive way to prevent refrigerator meltdown leading to food spoilage and easily provide information necessary to stay up to code.

 

Two nonprofits tied for third place, earning $5,000 each.

 

One was SEE, a partnership proposed by four CC students between Colorado College and the Catamount Institute to establish a semester for college students in environmental education.

 

The other was Colorado Springs Food Rescue, another CC student-run nonprofit, who redistribute businesses’ food waste to organizations that feed hungry, low-income populations in the Colorado Springs area.

 

The five judges, ranging from a CC alumnus entrepreneur on the Board of Directors to a bestselling author, were chosen for their venture capitalist experience and their varying backgrounds in technology, philanthropy, education, manufacturing and the arts, according to Bultema.

 

“We really tried to be careful about getting judges that were really well positioned to be able to apply the investment decision instincts,” Bultema said.

 

This final pitch competition was a culmination of a yearlong program in which students were given opportunities to develop and refine their ideas through weekly meetings, community mentors, a lecture series, and a Half Block course.

This year, 14 teams, including over 50 Colorado College students, submitted proposals. The group was narrowed down to the seven finalists based on preparedness for the final pitch competition.

The other three finalists to reach the pitch competition were Wadi Climbing, looking to establish Palestine’s first climbing gym, Kadi Energy, developing a solar-powered charging unit targeted to African mobile phone users, and CityRoots, creating innovative farming solutions to provide fresh, sustainable food to local businesses and residents.

 

In looking towards the future at the potential for another year of the Big Idea pitch competition, Bultema said, “Most definitely, but we’re going to make some changes. It’s a process of learning and refining.” To all interested students with innovative ideas, look for a new and improved Big Idea in the upcoming year.

 

 

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