ANN ARBOR, Mich., November 24, 2009 — 1000 Pitches, hosted by University of Michigan student organization MPowered Entrepreneurship, is a competition geared towards inspiring entrepreneurship amongst the student body. MPowered is a student-run organization that seeks to foster entrepreneurship on campus. The founders of MPowered, Ashwin Lalendren, and Israel Vicars found their inspiration to start MPowered at an entrepreneurship conference in Silicon Valley in March 2007. The next year, they recalled the rich entrepreneurial atmosphere of the entire area – people pitching ideas to venture capitalists in coffee shops and receiving funding the next day; thus, 1000 Pitches was conceived.
The competition took place from September 18th through November 20th, during which students had two months to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas in one of eight categories: Environmental, Social Entrepreneurship, Global Business, Green Campus, Health, Local Business, Michigan Matters, and Hi-Tech, which has a subcategory for best iPhone application. MPowered team members determined the ten finalists in each category based on a comprehensive judging rubric. The grade with the highest number of finalists is the freshmen class of 2013, which serves as a promising indicator for an increased interest in entrepreneurship on campus in years to come. Greek life also had a strong presence in the competition, making up ten of the finalists. The diverse group of finalists from a variety of colleges, years, majors, and organizations further proves that 1000 Pitches truly is a competition for anyone.
Experts in each field will decide the winners, who will be awarded $1,000 at the ceremony to be held on December 5th, 2009. All ninety finalists are invited to attend the Award Ceremony in Blau Auditorium where keynote speakers will discuss the importance of student entrepreneurship. Speakers include Associate Dean of Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering, Thomas Zurbuchen, and local Ann Arbor entrepreneur Richard Sheridan of Menlo Innovations.
A crucial reason for the increase in the number of pitches (from 1044 in 2008 to 2165 in 2009) was the engagement of student organizations on campus. The newly instated ‘Pledge Program’ was designed to solicit pitches from diverse organizations from Greek Life to athletic clubs with the promise of cash prizes that can range anywhere between $50 and $1500.
1000 has received support from numerous sponsors including Michigan Engineering, Rackham Graduate School, the School of Information, Green Mountain Energy, Arboretum Ventures, and Menlo Innovations to name a few. Even U-M faculty members are behind the 1KP effort. U-M’s president, Mary Sue Coleman, remarked that “1000 Pitches was a fabulous, engaging demonstration of students’ creativity and potential to innovate – skills that will be paramount as they move on from Michigan.”
By fostering the entrepreneurial mindset, MPowered helps University of Michigan students truly become the leaders and the best.