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MIT hosts first ever Elevator Pitch Contest

Noisemakers, air horns and a raucous audience helped launch the first annual MIT Elevator Pitch Contest on Oct. 13, with entrepreneurs from across the country pitching their ideas to judging panels of venture capitalists looking for the next big thing.

An elevator pitch, so called because it can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride, is a brief overview of an idea for a product, service or project. More than 170 contestants from 12 different schools were given 60 seconds to pitch their idea, and winners were chosen representing different fields of innovation, including health care and life sciences, Internet and communications, products and services, energy/green technologies and development.

The winners included several members of the MIT and MIT Sloan community, with MIT sophomore Jessica Laviolette collecting the grand prize of $2,500 with a pitch on automotive production. "Painting an automobile is the most expensive and time-consuming portion of the car manufacturing process. Our patent-pending method takes one-tenth the time and one-twentieth the cost of current paint-drying technology used today," she said.

Other notable pitches for innovation included noise-canceling windows for city-dwellers, an Internet search engine for children and a noninvasive imaging device to help detect skin cancer.

"The Elevator Pitch Contest is a brand-new addition to the $100K Entrepreneurship Competition series that allows up-and-coming entrepreneurs throughout America to test their ideas with passion," said Jeff Sabados, lead organizer of this year's annual business plan competition at MIT. "Conceivably, a participant could win $2,500 in 60 seconds. That's an hourly wage of $150,000, which isn't bad for an afternoon."

Elevator Pitch Contest winners included Manish Bhardwaj, MIT EECS; Stephen Boyer, MIT SDM; Hattie Chung, MIT; Jessica Laviolette, MIT Undergrad--grand prize winner; Albert Park, MIT; Andrea Sharfin, MIT Sloan; Matt Thomson, MIT Sloan; Ryan Tseng, MIT Sloan; Sabine Volkmer, MIT; and Patrick Zeitouni, MIT Sloan.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 31, 2007 (download PDF).

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