BYU Student Entrepreneurs Go Big

PROVO, Utah – Oct 20, 2016 – Football training compression shirts, mobile ultrasounds, wearable chairs, worm poop, and bathroom apps—the stakes were high as twenty-five student entrepreneurs presented some of the most creative ideas The Big Idea Pitch, sponsored by the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, has ever seen.

After all the votes were cast, Eric Stopper, a marketing junior from San Antonio, Texas, was announced the first-place winner and awarded $500 for his project, the Sweetheart Home Ultrasound. An affordable, easy-to-use home device, the Sweetheart Home Ultrasound links with a normal smart phone to give new parents peace of mind and day-by-day view of their baby during pregnancy.

“The event was incredible,” Stopper says. “The top five took a selfie together when they were deciding who won the entire competition, and it was just really cool to be among those great ideas.”

Stopper wasn’t the only one to realize he was surrounded by great potential.

“These ideas here are fantastic. These are big league, very well done, very well thought-out ideas,” says Craig Earnshaw a Rollins Founder and judge. “They addressed real problems and were presented in a way that anyone could get both the problem and the solution. They each addressed a market that’s big enough that it’s worth doing.”

Runners-up included Joseph Walker, a pre-management freshman from Eugene, Oregon; Jared Bruton, a first-year MS/MBA graduate student from Duchesne, Utah; Nick Kurtz a business senior from San Diego, California; and Emily Smith, an Orem, Utah, native studying entrepreneurship.

Each student had ninety seconds to pitch their idea followed by a thirty-second interval for judges to cast their votes online. Judges based their decisions on whether or not students communicated a problem to be solved, proposed a creative solution that is feasible, and identified a market.

“I was looking for ideas that sparked an immediate connection, kind of like when a guy and a girl meet for the first time,” says Wendy Morris, a Rollins Center Founder. “There’s that spark when you hear an incredible idea that you know has great potential.”

The following day, the Big Idea Pitch participants and select other students participated in a speed mentoring workshop. Students rotated between thirty Founders and spent seven minutes pitching their business ideas and receiving one-on-one advice and coaching.

“I learned that knowing which questions I need to answer before my idea becomes reality is even more important than knowing how to make the product,” says third-place winner Bruton. “If I can answer some of the difficult questions that the mentors posed to me, I will be able to validate my idea before taking it forward.”

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems and public management. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,300 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Stephen Liddle, Academic Director of Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, presents the first-place award and $500 to Eric Stopper.
Students met with Rollins Center Founders at the Speed Mentoring Event where they met one-on-one to pitch their ideas and receive career advice.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Tessa Haas