This year’s 1000 Pitches competition has now begun. Some of you may recognize it or the name may at least ring a bell. But for those of you who don’t know, 1000 Pitches is an annual entrepreneurial business pitch competition held by MPowered Entrepreneurship. To enter, students submit 30-second to three-minute long videos discussing their business ideas in any of the nine categories: Consumer Products, Environment, Hardware & Tech, Health, Local Business, Mobile App, MProvements (Improvements to the University of Michigan), Social Entrepreneurship and Web & Software. There are 10 finalists per category, and if a student wins a category he or she is awarded $1,000. In addition to the monetary reward, winners will have the opportunity to tour both the Google offices and the Quicken Loans offices. Some skeptics may wonder what the catch is. Well, there really isn’t one. 1000 Pitches is put on with the intent of driving the spirit of creativity and innovation on our campus.
1000 Pitches began four years ago with a mission to spread entrepreneurship on campus. In the competition’s first year, MPowered members went onto campus armed with a few laptops to record pitches and lots of pizza to give out. During that year, MPowered’s 1000 Pitches team reached its goal by receiving over 1,000 pitches. The next year, 1000 Pitches received more than 2,000 pitches and was named Project of the Year by the Office of Student Affairs and Leadership in 2010. Last year, 1000 Pitches challenged students to “Think Big” and students accepted that challenge by submitting over 3,000 pitches. That made 1000 Pitches the largest student run business pitch competition in the world.
This year, 1000 Pitches is back with a new tagline, “My Passion. My Pitch.” We want students to reach into what they love and are passionate about, think of ways to change and innovate it and turn that into a pitch. We want students to be inspired, and we feel the best way to do that is to have them turn their passions into their pitches.
In order to best connect to students’ passions, 1000 Pitches is working with student organizations around campus to plan events and activities to involve and impact students based on what they love. Events such as a Social Entrepreneurship Week for students interested in service and giving back are in the works.
In addition to inspiring students, 1000 Pitches has had winners take their ideas to the next level. The winner of the 2009 Environment category has launched his own company, June Energy, which creates affordable, portable solar energy systems that act as sources of light at night and also work to provide electricity. The winner of the 2010 Health category is working on his company SanoBio, developing a product that accelerates wound closure times.
Of course, not all ideas have to be like those. Both winners discussed above were passionate about their ideas and took them forward for that reason. We want students throughout the University to hear about 1000 Pitches and submit their ideas to us.
This year, every Tuesday for the duration of the competition — the last day to submit pitches is November 11 — 1000 Pitches will be doing something fun on the Diag. This Tuesday, we are implementing Operation: Let It Shine. Be sure to keep your eyes open for us.
And along with keeping your eyes open, start thinking about your ideas. Pitch submissions have opened, and we have a Pitch of the Week prize. The earlier you pitch, the better chance you have of winning the prize. Remember you can pitch up to three times, and we recommend it because it increases your chances of winning. To pitch online, please visit us at 1000pitches.com. We are looking forward to seeing all of the creative ideas the University’s leaders and the best come up with this year, so be sure to let them be heard.
Scott Christopher is a Business sophomore. Najia Yarkha is an Engineering sophomore. They are the 1000 Pitches project directors.