November 11, 2010 | Myrna Anderson

Ten students representing four academic majors took the stage of the new Recital Hall in the Covenant Fine Arts Center for Calvin’s first-annual Elevator Pitch Competition. One of them, Jamaal Fridge, a sophomore business major from Chicago Ill., took the $1000 prize. “He did a nice job,” said business professor Bob Medema.

Fridge’s pitched an idea for an application that would allow users to record music on a video game.  Sophomore business major and second-place winner Jerson Miranda, from Managua, Nicaragua, pitched an idea for smelting scrap metal in South America. Senior engineering major Brenton Eelkema, from Irvine, Calif., pitched a hydroponic apparatus for growing vegetables indoors. And sophomore Amy Hinkle, a communication arts and sciences major from Mattawan, Wisc., pitched a consulting service for advising people on their wardrobes. The runners-up won $600, $300 and $100 respectively.

The concept for the contest is in the name, said Medema: “Someone has an idea for a new venture which requires some capital. They have a captive audience while they are on the elevator for 90 seconds. They have 90 seconds to tell this person enough about the idea so that they can meet with them later and go into more depth.”

The winner of the contest, sponsored by SoundOff Signal and presented by the Calvin Entrepreneurship Club, will compete against contestants from Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Aquinas College, Cornerstone University, Davenport University and Grand Rapids Community College. “It helps students gain experience in public speaking. It helps them think in terms of creativity and innovation,” Medema said of the contest, which, along with BizPlan and other business-focused competitions, is intended to sharpen students’ entrepreneurial skills. (BizPlan is also sponsored by SoundOff Signal.)

The contest is also a way to bolster the new business curriculum at Calvin, which emphasizes experiential education. “I’d like to see students leave Calvin’s business program when they graduate like the University of Michigan football team taking the field,” said Medema. “Our goal is to have one of the best business programs of any Christian colleges in the country.”

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