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The winners of the Dolphin Pitch event pose with the judges and Martin Luytjes, faculty advisor for the Davis Entrepreneurs Organization

Here’s an idea: Dolphin Pitch sparks student entrepreneurs

Jacksonville University students demonstrated the great entrepreneurial process during the second annual “Dolphin Pitch” event presented by the Davis Entrepreneurs Organization (DEO). This event included students across seven academic disciplines. Each student pitched his or her business and product ideas to a panel of current and former entrepreneurs and capital investors. Similar to the ABC show Shark Tank, students had a limited amount of time to present their idea before being questioned by the panelists.

“It was great to host the contest this year; we had more contestants and a larger crowd,” said Alexandra Roberson-Dudley, event coordinator and last year’s winner of Dolphin Pitch. “We are very thankful our sponsors Community First Credit Union, Prime Realty, Unit Economic Investors, the Davis College of Business and D’Aquila & Associates; without them this event would not be as awesome!”

Panelists included returning judges Dr. Don Capener, Dean of the Davis College of Business; Sam Inman, Chief Financial Officer of Community First Credit Union; and JU Trustee and DCOB Executive Advisory Board member Jack Keigwein, who is CEO of Sound Point Asset Management. New judges included John D’Aquila Independent Accounting Firm Owner of D’Aquila and Associates; Tyler Saldutti, Founder, Prime Realty Commercial Real Estate Services; and John Ward Jr., Managing Partner, Unit Economic Investors.

The panelists provided feedback to the student presenters to assist in preparing their product or business for implementation. Students of varying levels of development participated, allowing for the educational opportunity to learn about beginning a business venture.

“We were thrilled at the participation from across the Jacksonville University campus,” said Martin Luytjes, JU Resource Professor of Entrepreneurism. “From President (Tim) Cost to all the faculty, staff and students who participated and attended, we saw that entrepreneurship can be for everyone.”

Dolphin Pitch winner Michelle Burris presents her Marine Online Mobile App.
Dolphin Pitch winner Michelle Burris presents her Marine Online Mobile App.

There were 16 students who submitted ideas, and the top three were awarded cash prizes to help assist their venture. The top $500 cash prize went to Michelle Burris with a Marine Online Mobile App, and a second-place $300 prize went to Blake Christiansen and Hector Vega for The Micro Dam. There was a three-way tie for third place, with each receiving $100: Yeovanti Williams with the Neffi Time Management System, Aundrae Gaskin with Global Wealth Partners, and Alexander Dupre with the Motorcycle Alert System.

“The most unique part of this event was the immediate feedback that our students receive after presenting their ideas,” Dean Don Capener said. “We saw better prepared students and concepts at this year’s event. This was great preparation for events like ‘One Spark’ and ‘Startup Weekend’.”

The DEO is a student-run organization on campus committed to spreading the entrepreneurial spirit throughout Jacksonville University.  Dolphin Pitch helped students turn their ideas into reality. Started by Trustee Keigwin in 2007, the organization was reactivated last school year and has quickly grown into one of the most influential student organizations at Jacksonville University.

All undergraduate JU students can earn the Entrepreneurship Certificate, with these additional courses focusing on new ventures and financing. This coursework complements their work in almost any major. Courses in corporate innovation and entrepreneurism were recently infused into the graduate and MBA business curriculum.