U-Pitch finals

Five notable entrepreneurs offered their expertise to decide this year's winners

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This year’s annual School of Business U-Pitch event was held in the Melvin K. West Fine Arts Center auditorium. A panel of notable entrepreneurs judged the finalists, looking for a quality presentation, comprehensive business plan, and an innovative idea. At the end of the night, Purecomfort took home the first place prize for their functional and fashionable tank top option for mastectomy recovery patients. 

The competition-like event provides a unique opportunity for students to collaborate with their professors and peers from across all departments. It is great practice for creating a strong, comprehensive business plan and learning how to confidently present in front of a critical panel of knowledgeable judges. This year’s panel included six professionals: Eli Delgado and Mike Vizcarra, co-owners of The Mortgage Lenders; Donna Hargrett, senior product manager for Amazon; Kol Medina, president and CEO of Blue Mountain Community Foundation; Eric Denney, family advisor atBaker Boyer Bank; and Norma Hernandez, mayor of College Place.

Nyasha Pazvakawambwa, a senior accounting and finance major, competed in U-Pitch as a member of Purecomfort and Vault-X; he was in charge of the financial and logistic side of both groups. For Pazvakawambwa, the competition was an invaluable learning opportunity throughout each step—from the first stages of preparing and delivering the pitch, up and through the finals. “It is an experience I would highly recommend,” Pazvakawambwa says. “I hope to see more students participate next year.”

In order to be chosen as a finalist, Pazvakawambwa and the other groups of two or more students first entered a written submission introducing and defending their new and unique product or idea. Seven teams move on where they must identify a problem and describe how their product will solve it in a short video pitch. Three of those teams make it to the finals where they present a detailed, in-person pitch to a panel of judges; finalists must also be prepared to receive feedback and respond to questions about their product or presentation.

This year’s U-Pitch resulted in Vault-X receiving both second place and the People’s Choice award for winning over the evening’s attending audience—their product was designed to make X-Acto knife blade replacement, removal, and disposal safer and more user friendly. Third-place went to WiseBites, an app that would scan food barcodes for immediate nutrition information—making healthy eating decisions more accessible. 

For more about future U-Pitch competitions and other School of Business information visit wallawalla.edu/business.

Posted June 5, 2024

Three WWU students present their pitch on stage