Changing Minds in 90 Seconds or Less

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 2:30pm

Ninety seconds isn’t much time to convince someone of the brilliance of your business idea, but for some Mount Holyoke students, a minute and a half was all they needed.

At this year’s pitch3 competition, held March 28 in Cleveland Hall, a panel of four judges heard business proposals from 20 students, ranging from on-campus bubble tea shops and cat cafés to the manufacturing of jewelry and other products. Students delivered their ideas and then fielded questions, all in the attempt to persuade those in attendance that their pitch was the most viable.

The payoff? Five hundred bucks to help get the idea off the ground. And in the end, the first-years won out.

In the business category, Celine Mudahakana ’17, who intends to study non-profit organizations while at Mount Holyoke, won for her “Weaving for Peace” project. The plan is to teach children affected by HIV/AIDS in Rwanda how to weave and sell their products.

Winning the social entrepreneurship category was Ellen Chilemba ’17, who is planning on studying art studio and economics. Chilemba’s pitch was about her organization Tiwale, a community-based organization that seeks to empower young Malawian women using education, microfinance, and vocational skills development.

The pitch that won most votes from audience members was that of computer science major Nikita Khan ’17, who developed a pair of slippers in her iDesign Studio seminar that light up when the user walks in them, and that vibrate to alert the user they are about to bump into something.

The judges for the event included Susan Daniels, theatre arts department chair; Ebru Kardan, communications manager at the Career Development Center; Tess Perrone Poe ’97, owner of Beehive Sewing in Northampton; and Aaron St. John, co-founder of Hitpoint Studios, a Hatfield-based video game business.