“Bottling Hope” Wins Elevator Pitch Contest

As she prepares to graduate from Mount Holyoke, Alison Rogers ’12 (pictured) has discovered an entrepreneurial streak that she plans to use in her career after college.

Rogers, a geography major and politics minor who's also studying coastal marine science, won last month’s MHC elevator pitch contest for her business idea, Bottling Hope. In 90 seconds, she convinced three judges – Steven Schmeiser, visiting assistant professor of economics, Susan Daniels, visiting instructor in theatre arts, and Aaron St. John, CEO of Hitpoint Studios – about the financial sustainability of her plan to bottle and sell drinking water from Holyoke’s reservoirs using 100 percent biodegradable paper-based bottles.

“From a business perspective, Bottling Hope is an idea that is sustainable financially and environmentally,” said Schmeiser, who organized the event. “Alison addressed the cost structures, distribution, and marketing strategies needed for Bottling Hope to succeed in an already competitive marketplace.”

“Alison’s presentation was polished and concise,” he said. “It ‘s very difficult to fit an entire business proposal into 90 seconds, and knowing what to weed out and what to keep is vital.”

Rogers will compete for a $1,000 prize, along with other student entrepreneurs from the region, at the Grinspoon Foundation Entrepreneurship Awards on April 25.

Envisioning a company to solve a problem and developing its financial and administrative structure has been an exciting and helpful exercise, said Rogers.

Though Rogers is not planning to launch a company just yet, she’s enjoying learning the skills needed to quickly and effectively articulate an idea and then act on it.

“Entrepreneurship is about finding a problem and solving it using a business model,” she said. “I’m interested in taking the ways entrepreneurs get things done and using these approaches in my career.”

For now, Rogers is targeting a government job in marine spatial planning, where she would help develop market-based management plans that allow marine resources to be used commercially within clear environmental limits.

“By connecting business opportunities to conservation and resource planning, there’s a better chance of getting buy-in from politicians, business owners, and land managers, and actually making progress on using marine resources sustainably,” she said.