UST Participants Take 1st, 2nd & 3rd at Entrepreneurship Pitch Fest
Three current undergraduates from the University of St. Thomas-Houston swept the most recent HCC/UST Pitch Fest taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd-place cash prizes for their entrepreneurial business ideas. The outcome was a stunning reversal from last year’s competition.
Understanding the Remarkable Reversal
Director of UST’s McNair Center for Free Enterprise & Entrepreneurship, Dr. Patrick Woock, cites reasons for the impressive change of fortune.
“The improvement is attributed to our robust program, starting with the success of our new Entrepreneurship and Conscious Capitalism teaching model,” Woock said. “Also, we have been successful in recruiting non-business majors to our program, two of this year’s winners were from non-business majors. Its UST’s diversity that gives us the edge!”
And the Winners Are—
Here are the winners, their judge-stopping ideas and academic majors:
- 1st Place, Juan Gonzales. He called his clever, well-developed idea “U-Commute,” a business that would launch from a new software application to facilitate rideshare to and from classes for university students. Gonzales is majoring in Marketing.
- 2nd Place, Tina Stinson-Mills. Mills smartly detailed her idea for creating “Mud Pies Clay Art Camps.” Mud Pies would offer pottery-making camps and parties at senior centers, parks and recreations departments, day cares, churches and other locations. These activities for the elderly and children would encourage mental stimulation. Mills is majoring in Studio Arts.
- 3rd Place, Nhung Le. Le went before the judges with “Build-A-Bot.” Her enterprise would involve creating a small robot, an AI friend, for kids to interact and play with. Le is majoring in Nursing.
Ideas Start With Noticing Patterns
First place winner Juan Gonzales beams when he talks about the Conscious Capitalism class, the event itself and his understanding of how entrepreneurship happens.
“We learned in class to look for patterns when you notice a problem and want to solve it,” Gonzales said. “I had noticed that every semester students would log onto the UST app asking for rides to and from school. That was a recurring event, a pattern, which started me thinking. The class provided a good outline of the other pieces I needed to consider. I think what stops people is not knowing where to start and where to get resources. At the event, we met these people and practiced our pitches. It was a great experience. I would do it again.”
Diversity Makes for Amazing Garden
According to Woock, ideas presented at the Pitch Fest represented a broad spectrum from founding airlines to improving the humanities to a low-cost internet provider to a clothing line for dogs.
“When you are inclusive of all academic majors, genders, and backgrounds, you can create an amazing garden,” Woock observed.
The proof of UST’s excellent entrepreneurship program is in the pitch fest placements.