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ASU's Open Pitch Week is virtual Feb. 20-24: Here's how to pitch, network and win

Penny for your thoughts? Convince an audience and win $250 instead


Open Pitch began as a one-day, in-person event hosted separately at each of ASU's campuses. The goal behind Open Pitch was giving students a pathway to entrepreneurship beyond business.

The spring iteration of ASU's Open Pitch Week is back virtually during the week of Feb. 20-24. Successfully convince an audience of fellow participants, entrepreneurs and faculty for a chance to win $250 for your idea.

The catch? The idea has to be a two-minute long, fully verbal pitch. No visual aids, such as presentation slides, poster boards or even props, are permitted. 

Open Pitch began as a one-day, in-person event hosted separately at each of ASU's campuses. Its transition to a week-long event in a virtual medium is fairly recent. 

"We wanted to expand the platform to ASU students online and outside the main campuses," said Bailey Gading, a program manager at the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at ASU. Gading currently leads the team behind the event. 

The goal behind Open Pitch was giving students a pathway to entrepreneurship beyond business. 

"You don't have to be a W.P. Carey or business student to enter entrepreneurship," Gading said.

Pitching at Open Pitch is designed to be a fluid, informal process. There is no judging panel and the audience, composed of fellow participants, faculty, entrepreneurs at the Edson Institute, and student spectators — all get the same vote. 

Open Pitch does not have a theme that limits ideas. Emergent pitches often range from music to fashion and even social entrepreneurship. 

"I really don't think there's ever been an industry or a type of ideal or a way of pitching," said Gading, who suggests that even unprepared, loosely-wrought pitches are interesting for the idea behind them. 

If the day's Open Pitch event has five or more participants, the crowd moves to vote for a favorite pitch, and the winner is awarded $250 to move their idea forward. There are potentially five winners across five days, and students may also pitch multiple ideas on different days.

Maxwell Bregman, a junior studying business data analytics, won the Crowd Favorite Pitch at the Spring 2022 event. He describes the Open Pitch audience as communal and inquisitive. 

"Everybody was supportive and happy to exchange ideas from different areas, and had questions that made you think," he said.

Bregman pitched "Breathe EV", a user-specific software designed for electric vehicle users that maps charging stations to combat anxiety about the range of stations.

According to Bregman, preparation was tricky despite prior experience, mainly due to the time constraint. 

"We had our statement and vision to get people on board to understand what we're building, and since (open pitch) was only two minutes, we had to condense a lot of that," he said. 

Benjamin Moxon, a senior studying electrical engineering, was another winner at the Spring 2022 event. Moxon pitched "Network", a social media start-up targeted at universities. As the basis for his pitch, he used his executive summary, a one-page document that contained mission goals of his venture. 

Moxon cited repetition and practice as preparation. "Primarily, I ran through my (executive summary) a bunch of times," he said.  

Gading suggested another resource to improve a pitch: Entrepreneurship Catalysts at the Edson Institute.

Entrepreneurship Catalysts are student workers and entrepreneurs who offer feedback on ventures and help with pitching. 

"Students can schedule one-on-one meetings with (Entrepreneurship Catalysts) and get valuable feedback," said Gading.     

Beyond the crowd vote lies the real capital of attending Open Pitch Week. According to Gading, Open Pitch is an opportunity to network and forge connections with fellow entrepreneurs. 

"(Students) connect on LinkedIn, exchange ideas and get peer feedback. It's such a great community to become a part of," she said.

Bregman had an innovator at the Edson Institute reach out to him after being interested in his idea. "I soon found connections in the entrepreneurial community at ASU and around Tempe," he said. 

The Edson Institute offers networking opportunities for students through membership programs. 

"Venture Devils" is one such entrepreneurial program that offers mentorship, direct access to funding opportunities and demo days.

"Most students who were at Open Pitch end up joining Venture Devils to further their ideas," Gading said.

Moxon said that Open Pitch inducted him into the entrepreneurial community at ASU and now he is a full-time member of Venture Devils.

"I always felt like I was on the edge of that place, and (Open Pitch) led to me joining (Venture Devils)," Moxon said.

"We really like non-traditional, creative pitches," said Gading, who has seen students succeed and win through multiple attempts at the event. "This is my favorite event of the year, just based on the ideas we see and the communities we build."

Students who are interested in pitching or judging as an audience member can RSVP for the online pitch sessions on Feb. 22, 23 and 24. 

Edited by Annie Graziano, Reagan Priest and Grace Copperthite.

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