Inaugural Student Pitch Day attracts diverse entrepreneurial participants

Group shot of 2017 Student Pitch Day participants

Representing undergraduate and graduate programs, the Penn State Great Valley Student Pitch Day participants shared their business ideas with faculty and area professionals and competed for cash prizes.

Credit: Elizabeth Palmer

MALVERN, Pa. — From game-based e-learning courses to handcrafted outdoor tools to portable devices protecting ATM PIN numbers, Penn State Great Valley's first-ever Student Pitch Day drew a wide variety of student entrepreneurs.

Sponsored by the REV-UP Center of Entrepreneurship, the inaugural event consisted of two rounds of pitches, a keynote address from YPrime CEO Shawn Blackburn, and a panel discussion with faculty and area professionals.

Six students participated in the competition — representing both the undergraduate and graduate programs offered at the campus.

Finalists included:

  • Winner: Matt Dever, founder of 30 Minute Fit, an individualized fitness and nutrition program geared to help individuals in 30 minutes or less per day.
  • Runner up: Lavanetta Quince, creator of Essential Marketing Group, a consulting firm designed to aid small businesses in engaging and expanding their audiences.

Both Dever and Quince are students in Great Valley’s MBA program.

30 Minute Fit

Matt Dever has never had the option to be unhealthy. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 14, he spent years monitoring his nutrition and exercise habits. Around the same time, he began teaching karate and kickboxing classes.

But working as a Managing Software Architect at Cerner had made it difficult to maintain his two-hour-long workout routine. After trying CrossFit and other workouts, he discovered he could achieve similar results in shorter, 10-15 minute routines that fit better into his busy schedule.

Matt Dever

MBA student Matt Dever shared his business plan for 30 Minute Fit.

Credit: Elizabeth Palmer

A new ventures course in fall 2016 motivated Dever to start a formal business plan. After conversing with Professor Eric Stein, Dever began to think broader and develop a brand for 30 Minute Fit. By the end of the year, Dever launched 30 Minute Fit and began working with clients from his personal network.

Designed to be more affordable than a personal trainer, 30 Minute Fit works with clients one-on-one to provide guidance and accountability on exercise and nutrition — without requiring hours of effort from the customer. Since the program’s inception, Dever has worked with 12-15 clients.

At the suggestion of faculty member John J. Sosik, Dever signed up for Student Pitch Day, which forced him to look ahead to scaling his business. He read Chris Guillebeau’s "The $100 Startup" and sought feedback from an entrepreneurial friend.

Essential Marketing Group

The entrepreneurial spirit runs in Lavanetta Quince’s family. For as long as she remembers, Quince’s mother has held a side project — whether it was selling purses or running a nail salon. But she also recalls her mom struggling to maintain businesses due to competition and limited awareness.

After receiving an email from faculty member Cyndy Walton promoting Student Pitch Day, Quince had an idea. Why not create a marketing and consulting group that’s solely focused on growing small and local businesses?

Quince met with Walton to discuss her business plan and pitch for the event.

Motivated to determine her own life path, Quince created the Essential Marketing Group. She developed a business plan for small ventures to present their services using video content and live events. By leveraging existing technology, business owners will connect with their audience, share valuable information, and answer questions in a live, authentic format.

“By using Periscope or Facebook live, business owners can genuinely engage their audience,” she said. “Essential Marketing Group can provide the technology, support, and promotion for these opportunities. At a time where consumers are very aware of marketing, real-time video can be a way to humanize small business owners’ efforts.”

Next steps

As finalists, both Dever and Quince received cash prizes to put toward their business ideas.

Student Pitch Day winners Lavanetta Quince and Matt Dever

Student Pitch Day winners Lavanetta Quince (right) and Matt Dever (left).

Credit: Elizabeth Palmer

Student Pitch Day allowed Quince to network and converse with the judges, who can provide expert feedback and guidance on how to grow Essential Marketing Group.

For Dever, expanding 30 Minute Fit requires him to hire additional coaches to work with clients. He plans to grow his team incrementally and seek feedback from existing clients.

“My experience at Student Pitch Day was challenging and fun,” said Dever. “When I decided to participate I had no plan to significantly grow my business concept or know how to pitch to investors. I forced myself to think broadly about scaling my business model. The attendees and judges were positive, insightful and inspiring. The process sped up my business development by six months. But now comes the hard part — deciding how I want to execute things.”

About REV-UP Center for Entrepreneurship

In May 2016, Penn State Great Valley received a seed grant from the Invent Penn State initiative to establish the REV-UP Center for Entrepreneurship. Working closely with its key corporate affiliate, the Chester County Economic Development Council, the program aims to engage and encourage Penn State students, faculty, and community members to generate innovative, commercially-viable solutions to address existing and emerging business and social needs, and to support their entrepreneurial efforts as they serve the Philadelphia region.