Ten students representing four academic majors took the stage of the new Recital Hall in the Covenant Fine Arts Center for Calvin’s first Elevator Pitch Competition this fall. One of them, Jamaal Fridge, took home a $1,000 prize. “He did a nice job,” said business professor Bob Medema.

Fridge, a sophomore business major from Chicago, pitched an idea for a software 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 of Irvine, Calif., pitched a hydroponic apparatus for growing vegetables indoors. And sophomore Amy Hinkle, a communication arts and sciences major from Mattawan, Wis., pitched a wardrobe consulting service. 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, a manufacturer of quality emergency, bus and commercial vehicle safety products, 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 (a contest in entrepreneurship sponsored by the engineering and business departments) and other business-focused competitions, is intended to sharpen students’ entrepreneurial skills. (SoundOff Signal also sponsors BizPlan.)

The contest is also a way to bolster the new business curriculum at Calvin, which emphasizes experiential education. Said Medema: “Our goal is to have one of the best business programs of any Christian colleges in the country.”