Createur 2024 Awards $20,000 to Student Entrepreneurs

Createur Conference & Pitch Competition Awards $20,000 to Entrepreneurs

Lauren Beatty

April 17, 2024 Academics, Alumni & Friends, Business

students with large checks winners Createur Pitch competition

The McGraw School of Business at Olivet Nazarene University hosted the second annual Createur Conference & Pitch Competition on April 15-16, 2024. The conference and pitch competition were created to inspire and encourage the Olivet community to engage in entrepreneurial ventures; build connections with faith-driven peers and professionals; identify best practices for start-up businesses; and explore untapped potential business opportunities.

Keynote speakers included “Auntie” Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels; Brett Hagler, CEO and Co-founder of New Story; and Justin Donald, the Lifestyle Investor. Spark Session speakers featured a variety of business owners who spoke on topics including real estate, paying off student loans, investment foundations, AI’s role in future creativity, franchising and more.

The two-day event also included a Biz Block party; pop-up retail expo for student startups; Createur Comedy Club performances; ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Crawford Startup Studio; and plenty of time for networking. The opening of the Crawford Startup Studio marked an exciting new access point for student entrepreneurs. The purpose of the studio, located on the first floor in Olivet’s Weber Center, is to facilitate spaces for students to connect and collaborate as they pursue entrepreneurial ventures. Every year, the names and businesses of chosen finalists from the pitch competition will be added to the “Wall of Winners” in the startup studio.

On the first day of the event, ten area high schools had students participate in their own pitch competition. Each of the top four finalist teams in this category received $1250.

Lake Zurich High School
Team Members: Mahi Chandrakumar, Jack Dohleman, Tyler Olson, Kyle Sopkin
Company Name: Project Grounds

Barrington High School
Team Members: Grahme Valskis, Aidan Marchese, Madeleine Yoon, Nishka Kolhe
Company Name: DotekiBrush

Barrington High School
Team Members: Charles Palmer, Suhani Modi, Damian Fosteras
Company Name: Community Butler

Batavia High School
Team Members: Benjamin Costello, McKenna Bremner, Cece Day, Kathleen Engelhart
Company Name: Lunch Ahead

Throughout the event, more than 700 high school and college students, faculty, alumni and invested community members participated in the event, which offered attendees the chance to learn from established entrepreneurs through Spark Sessions and to pitch their own entrepreneurial ideas for the chance to be awarded financial support.

“This year’s conference success was a testament to the dedication of high school educators and the established college programs fostering emerging entrepreneurial talent,” said Chris Perez, Entrepreneurship Director and Faculty. “With representation from 10 high schools spanning Illinois and Indiana, alongside participation from six colleges, our keynote speakers and spark session presenters elevated the discourse. I’m pleased to report that the student pitch competition also improved significantly. Moving forward, we envision leveraging this platform to foster a stronger sense of community among our students, alumni, friends, and partners, driving positive change through faith-driven entrepreneurship.”

Following initial rounds of pitching their business ideas on Monday afternoon, 10 undergraduate entrepreneur finalists were selected to move forward in the competition on Tuesday morning. The final pitches were given in front of a large audience in Chalfant Hall and the winners were announced.

1st Place: $5,000
Wayde Sickels, Olivet Nazarene University
Company Name: Top Flight Drone Co.

2nd Place: $4,000
Hayden Colclasure, Olivet Nazarene University
Company Name: DelEndeavors

3rd Place: $3,000
Cameron Lockrey, Calvin University
Company Name: Kickback

4th Place: $2,000
Deanna Grey, Taylor University
Company Name: INO Bar

5th Place: $1,000
Jared Sisson, Taylor University
Company Name: Shepherd Security

A special Tiger Award was awarded to Emmet Wolff (Olivet Nazarene University) in the College Division to spotlight a business idea with the best use of technology, innovation, growth in emerging markets and engineering.

Additionally, a vCalc Startup Metrics Award was given to Jacob Vander Sanden (University of Iowa) for a business with the best use of mathematics and calculations in the pitch presentation and plan.

Each of the finalists received a prize pack including resources like executive coaching sessions and financial planning from sponsors including LivePlan, Converge and Pathfinder.

For more information on the Createur Conference, visit Episodes of the Createur Podcast, an ongoing project through the entrepreneurship program in the McGraw School of Business, can be streamed on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and more.

April 18, 2024. An earlier version incorrectly listed that more than 600 people attended the event. An earlier version incorrectly listed that the prize pool was $15,000.

Lauren Beatty

Lauren Beatty ’13 is a freelance writer, author, editor, artist and an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication at Olivet. She earned a Master of Arts degree in cross-cultural and sustainable business management from the American University of Paris in 2014. Her thesis explored the evolution of socially responsible business practices in America.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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