‘Shark Tank’ style investors come to campus for next big thing

By Dylan Harris, Contributor

Some of EWU’s brightest aspiring entrepreneurs will be gathering in the Showalter Auditorium on May 10 to compete in the final round of the Eagle’s Nest Business Pitch Competition. The event, put on by the EWU Center for Entrepreneurship, allows students with great business ideas the opportunity to present to business professionals and compete for a first place prize of $2,500.

This is the second annual Eagle’s Nest Business Pitch Competition. The contest is designed to promote entrepreneurial endeavors and innovation, and to give students the opportunity to gain feedback on their ideas. This yearly event is open to EWU students from any degree program.

“Our belief is that entrepreneurial ideas don’t just come from the business school, they come from students of all schools,” said Dr. Bruce Teague, director of the entrepreneurship program. “This pitch competition being outside of the curriculum, what we call a co-curricular activity, is all about giving access to every student on this campus to start developing an idea and talk to real-world professionals and get feedback.”

There were two qualifying rounds earlier in the school year to determine the eight teams in the final round. Approximately 20 teams competed in the second qualifying round for the last four spots in the finals. The panel of judges consisted of 25 business professionals, ranging from EWU professors to successful entrepreneurs.

Placing first in the second qualifying round was a team of students from Mie University, located in Japan. The team won a business pitch contest in Japan, earning each of them an all-expenses-paid trip to Spokane to compete in this second qualifying round of the Eagle’s Nest Pitch Contest.

“Ultimately we want to exchange students, faculty, ideas for research and build a relationship,” said Dave Gorton, director of community outreach for the entrepreneurship program. Gorton traveled to Mie University to teach entrepreneurial skills to students and to help build the relationship between the two schools.

The second place finisher was EWU’s Jennifer Beal, who pitched “Shore Fisherman Pro,” a device that pulls the line of a fishing rod out much farther than a person could cast it, allowing those fishing from the shoreline to reach better fishing spots that would normally require a boat. Beal and her husband created the prototype with the intention of providing fishermen an affordable alternative to buying a boat and to give shore fishermen a better chance at catching more fish.

Placing third was Harley Bean, also an EWU student, who pitched an idea for a transit app that helps simplify the process of accessing public transportation, while also making it more user-friendly than other current applications.

The fourth and final contestant to make it to the final round was another EWU student, Hayden Leslie, who pitched “Xtra Hand,” a convenient desktop extension and organizer that helps create more space particularly for students in classrooms with tiny desks attached to the chairs.

One contestant, Steven Inc, presented an idea to revolutionize the current television remotes, improving upon their batteries, voice commands and overall usability.

“It started out as an assignment for my MIS class and as time went on I realized people actually think this is a good idea,” Inc said.

Any EWU student with a good idea for a product or business is encouraged to enter next year’s competition. For more information, contact Dr. Bruce Teague or any other faculty member from the EWU Center for Entrepreneurship.  

The final round will begin at 6 p.m. in the Showalter Auditorium on May 10. The event is free to attend and all are welcome to join and witness the “Shark Tank” style showdown between the eight qualifying teams.