On Thursday Sept. 12, students walking by Talley Student Union may have noticed a cluster of white tents set up across Stafford Commons. With booths for on-campus departments, alumni-run startups and signs across campus pointing the way, it was hard to miss this year’s Entrepalooza.
Erin Muir, the marketing and community development manager for NC State Entrepreneurship, spoke about the event.
“Each year, we coordinate with NC State alumni and students who have companies, so we encourage them to come out and share what they’re working on with the community,” Muir said. “We also invited some NC State organizations this year that focus on entrepreneurship and innovation so that they could also be out there, ready to get students and community members plugged into their offerings.”
According to Muir, this year marked the fifth time Entrepalooza has been held at NC State, and the second it has taken place on main campus.
Abby Page, a second-year studying business administration, attended the event.
“Entrepreneurship is my concentration, so I wanted to come and talk to people about that,” Page said. “[My friend and I] talked to the guys at the Paradigm booth some. They’re a start-up themselves, but they also help other startups.”
Madi Horn, a first-year studying elementary education, was also present at Entrepalooza.
“I was interested in seeing what was out here, and the free food was a bonus,” Horn said.
According to Muir, the turnout for the event was great with over 1,600 people registering to attend.
“I think we saw a lot of students who are really energized about entrepreneurship and innovation,” Muir said. “We saw full booths all over the lawn outside of Talley. Our showcase participants really came with really amazing interactive displays and setups that showcased the innovations that they’re creating, both on-campus and off. The turnout for the event was great, but more so was the wonderful entrepreneurs who were out there showcasing what they’re contributing to society and the community beyond.”
The main event of Entrepalooza is the Minute to Pitch It competition, where ten teams of students compete to give the best short pitch. Muir discussed the event.
“The Minute to Pitch It competition is an opportunity for students to pitch their idea in one minute or less,” Muir said. “They have the opportunity to win $1,000, though this year it was bumped up to $2250 by a generous donation, with an Audience Choice Award and a Judge's Choice Award.”
According to Muir, the additional prize money was provided by University Advancement. She also spoke about the application process for the competition.
“Students apply online in the weeks leading up to Entrepalooza,” Muir said. “Applications become available in August, and are open up until the week before Entrepalooza, that’s the deadline. Once we have those applications in, we send them out to faculty and staff who are connected to Entrepreneurship, and they submit their selections, and that’s how we choose the ten participants.”
This year, the judge’s choice winner was YupTape, a biodegradable type of duct tape designed by Halen Mattison, a fourth-year studying mechanical engineering.
The audience choice winner was the app YouFirst, an app aiming to make it easier for people to connect with medical professionals, whose team included Zafar Ahsan, a fourth-year studying mechanical engineering and economics; Bailey Blankenship, a fourth-year studying computer engineering; Kevin Dadhaniya, a fourth-year studying biological sciences and business entrepreneurship; and Alon Greyber, a fourth-year studying English and computer science.
For those interested in entering the competition in the future, Muir has some advice.
“I’d say to just do it,” Muir said. “There are a lot of opportunities throughout the year to pitch ideas, and I think it can definitely be daunting, especially when you’re looking at an audience the size of the one we had at Entrepalooza, but the thing is that your idea is worthy of putting it out there, and I think it’s a really important part of the entrepreneurial process to learn to pitch as a skill set, and learn to present and communicate your ideas, but also to be sharing those ideas with the people around you and with the community so you can get feedback.”