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‘Idea Pitch’ winners announced


By Matthew Waldrep
A&E Editor

The winners of the 2011 GRCC “Idea Pitch” competition are in, and first and second place are preparing to take their ideas to the regional competition at Davenport College.

Hosted by Professor Felix Pereiro, the “Idea Pitch” competition invites students, regardless of their major, to bring a creative idea for a business, product-prototype, or organization.

“Last year we had 53-60 entries,” said Pereiro, “this year we ended up with 89.”

Of the 89 initially submitted ideas, 15 students were chosen to pitch their ideas before a panel of three judges.

The first place prize of 800 dollars was awarded to Allison Braunshausen for her “Smiles for Hope” pitch.  “We make headbands and caps for children of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital who are going through cancer,” Braunshausen said.  Braunshausen who said she’s already partnered with Helen DeVos Children’s said “That’s where we’ve already given out over 450 headbands.  Her idea is to see “Smiles for Hope” grow into a larger charity organization.

Second place, with the prize of 200 dollars, went to Olga Sarayeva for “Lunch & Learn,” a prepackaged children’s lunch that would promote healthy eating habits and education.  Sarayeva said she was “surprised” to see an idea that began as an assignment for a business advertising class make it as far as taking second place in a school-wide competition.

Third place, and a prize of 100 dollars, was given to Jeffrey Noel for “Senior Tech.”  “Senior Tech,” said Noel “is a non-profit organization that recruits tech-savvy individuals, professionals, students.”  The volunteers for the organization would then assist senior citizens in the installation and maintenance of high-tech household devices.

The students were allowed around a minute and a half to pitch their idea.  The three judges then had a chance to give feedback and ask further questions regarding the idea.  Judges then offered constructive criticism before the time came to bring the next contestant to the podium.

This year’s judges were selected from the Grand Rapids Inventors Network (GRIN).  Patent Attorney, Daniel Girdwood, President of Intrepid Plastics Manufacturing, Bonnie Knopf, and Michael Suman, owner of his own product and market development company, were chosen to critique the idea pitches and to deliberate to decide the winners.

“To be creative is etched into our DNA,” Pereiro said.  Professor Pereiro has his Masters of Management from Aquinas College and is beginning his ninth year of teaching at GRCC.  Following the events of 9/11 and after running his own businesses, Periero decided to come to teach at GRCC as an outreach to people who want to start their own business.  He is excited about the millennial generation’s chance to do their part in making the world we live in a better place.  “These major break-through ideas are not going to come from people you expect, they are going to come from people like you saw here today.”  Pereiro said.

Last year was the first year GRCC was invited to participate in the regional “Idea Pitch.”  The two GRCC finalists, Allison Braunshausen and Olga Sarayeva, will go on to compete with finalists from Aquinas College, Calvin College, Cornerstone University, Davenport University, Grand Valley State University, and Hope College.

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