Cal Poly and Hancock College Elevator Pitch Winners Hope to Take Ideas to Higher Heights

Up-and-coming entrepreneurs earn $1,000 for 90-second product proposals at 10th annual contest by Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


SAN LUIS OBISPO — A Cal Poly business administration freshman and a film student from Allan Hancock College were $1,000 winners at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s 10th annual Elevator Pitch Competition Forum — a fast-paced contest for Cal Poly, Cuesta College and Allan Hancock College entrepreneurs — held recently in the Performing Arts Center on campus.

In addition, a Cal Poly biomedical engineering senior received the $500 “audience choice” award.

Ten students from the university and colleges had just 90 seconds each to pitch their cutting-edge innovations and business ideas Nov. 4. They were evaluated by a panel of four judges on four criteria: How well the problem or opportunity was explained; whether the idea was innovative/creative; whether the direction and flow were clear; and, ultimately, whether the pitch was persuasive.

Cal Poly’s Alexandra Joelson’s winning pitch was for Intego Sportswear — a company she started in March of 2018 (through a high school business and entrepreneurship class in Carlsbad, California) that seeks to provide athletes with hassle-free, inexpensive and protective gear.

“I was super excited to win this competition,” the 18-year-old said. “I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship, but I never knew what I could do with it and where it would take me. I think this competition was the first step to get me onto the right path.”

Her pitch, the highest placing of the five Cal Poly entries, centered on The Cleat Guard.

“The Cleat Guard is a silicone-like mold that slips onto the bottom of any cleat to prevent the pegs on the bottom of the cleats from wearing down,” she said. “The Cleat Guard is simple and is here to save athletes time and money.”

Her goal for Intego Sportswear is to develop “my game plan to form a team, create a prototype, test the market and get this off the ground.”

Tyler Little of Hancock College pitched his product, the Jupiter Wrench — a high-tech adjustable wrench with a wireless charging toolbox. The film and television production major, who has made several student films, is Hancock’s Associated Student Body president.

This was the first year Hancock College students participated in the Elevator Pitch. Little edged out three Cuesta students and a Hancock classmate.

“I honestly couldn’t believe I won,” he said. “There were some really great ideas up there, and a lot of the students were extremely passionate about what they were pitching.

“The Jupiter Wrench is a battery-powered electric wrench that does so much more than that,” the 30-year-old said. “It’s a complete system that comes with a smart toolbox. The toolbox can ping tools that are missing with a sound helping you locate it. I also designed a special wrench to remove stripped bolts and nuts. It works with a push of a button. I’ve been waiting for someone to bring tools into the modern era. Nobody has, so I will.”

He plans to transfer next fall to a university, in pursuit of becoming a producer/director in the film industry, while perfecting his proposal.

“As for Jupiter Tools, I fully intend to get this off the ground with a working prototype,” he said. “I have had interest from Cal Poly in helping me make that happen, which is great.”

Cal Poly’s Clara Taegan Brechtel, whose idea was the top pick of attendees, pitched a device that helps physical therapists monitor patient recovery progress for people receiving physical therapy following ACL reconstruction surgery. 

“The elevator pitch was a great first step in developing our idea and value propositions,” said the Annapolis, Maryland, resident. “We are thrilled that the audience showed interest in the technology we are developing and has validated that we are moving in the right direction. My interdisciplinary team of engineers are excited to continue working on this idea as our senior project and are looking forward to seeing where it goes.”

Brechtel is a member of the Quality of Life Plus club on campus that seeks to develop unique solutions for health problems faced by veterans.

Haley Pavone, the founder and CEO of Pashion Footwear, was the forum’s keynote speaker. She won the 2016 Elevator Pitch Competition with a proposal for convertible heels that has developed into Pashion Footwear, a startup in the CIE’s Incubator program. Since winning the competition, Pavone’s company launched its first shoe and accessory line and was recognized by Forbes as a rising star in the $30 billion women’s fashion footwear industry.

Contact: Candice Conti
805-756-5106; clconti@calpoly.edu

November 15, 2019

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