Open Pitch brings "shark tank" style open mic night to Tempe campus

Students pitch their ideas with the potential to win $250 for their project

Throughout September, ASU students with entrepreneurial ideas have a chance to share their concepts and win a bit of money. In a Shark Tank meets open mic night style event, entrepreneurs from all of ASU's campuses looking to kickstart their ideas can take part in Open Pitch. 

Held once a semester on each of the four campuses through ASU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, during Open Pitch, students have two minutes to pitch their idea to a crowd of their peers. As long as more than five students pitch, the crowd votes on their favorite idea and the winner is awarded $250 to help support the idea.

The first Open Pitch event was held on the West campus on Sept. 7 at the Changemaker Central Verde Dining Pavilion, and the most recent Open Pitch was at the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus last Thursday.

ASU is holding another Open Pitch night on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 4-5 p.m. on the Downtown campus and Thursday, Sept. 28 from 4-5 p.m. on the Polytechnic campus.  

Lauren Dunning, a program manager for entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU, said Open Pitch is designed to give students an opportunity to network and share ideas.

“The Open Pitch event is really meant to be an informal opportunity to share your ideas, get connected to other students who are thinking about creating things or approaching things in new ways and also to just be part of something that’s thinking about new things or new approaches to whatever we’re doing.” 

Veronica Head, ASU graduate engineering student, poses for a photo after winning the top investor idea in Tempe, Arizona on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.

Veronica Head, a graduate engineering student, won the night’s event with her idea, “Aquaponos,” a device that would be used to create small, low-maintenance, in-home gardens out of recycled five-gallon bottles. 

Head said the gardens would operate through aquaponics, an agriculture system that combines hydroponics and aquaculture to use fish nutrients to grow plants without soil.

Head and her partners, Chandler Petrovich and Nick Kandas, senior mechanical engineering students,  came up with their idea in “Engineering Projects in Community Service” classes at ASU, then got involved in Venture Devils to move their idea forward.

The team was inspired to create their project based on what they knew about traditional methods of growing food that use large amounts of water and land. She said the name “Aquaponos” comes from “aqua,” meaning water, and “Ponos,” the Greek god of farming and tilling. 

“We want to change that (current farming methods), but we want to start small because that’s how we enact world change and we want to start at the individual level,” Head said. 

The $250 would go towards creating their first prototype, she said.

Students from all majors are eligible to pitch. Jason Zeikowitz, a graduate student in sustainability and leadership, pitched an idea dealing with artistic activism for climate change awareness. 

While Zeikowitz’s idea did not win during this session, he said that he uses these events to practice his pitching.  

“I would say with these events, there’s no failure. There’s just learning,” Zeikowitz said.  

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