Suhel Shaikh Wins Elevator Pitch Competition

Bob Mark Elevator Pitch
Bob Mark Elevator Pitch
Suhel Shaikh, left, poses with Andre Laplume of Michigan Tech's School of Business and Economics after winning the Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition Oct. 7

An idea for a breast cancer screening device took the top prize in the 2017 Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition held Saturday in the Van Pelt and Opie Library.

The pitch for "ICanID," by biomedical engineering graduate student Suhel Shaikh, actually captured two prizes. He won the top prize for Most Actionable Business with a $5,000 Berquist Prize, a year of SmartZone space and Smart Start tuition waiver.

Shaikh's pitch also took home the Best Technical Innovation, which comes with a $1,000 cash prize, free patent discovery from Brooks-Kushman ($2,500 value) and Smart Start tuition waiver.

In addition to monetary prizes, winners in all nine categories received a ticket to the Silicon Valley Experience, where they will spend a week networking with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

ICanID, as described by Shaikh, is an alternative breast cancer screening protocol that is less expensive, less time consuming and more accurate than conventional diagnostics. The device is being developed by a team led by Marina Tanasova (Chem) and Smitha Rao (Bio Med). He said he was bit nervous appearing before the large crowd, “I’ve never done anything like this before, I’ve been practicing for two weeks.”

In the Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition, named after the late School of Business and Economics professor, individuals, or two-person teams, have two minutes to pitch their business plans to a potential investor.

A total of 25 pitches were presented in the fast-paced competition. Andre Laplume (SBE), told the crowd that 40 teams had signed up for the competition and were whittled down to 25 earlier in the day. In his opening remarks, Laplume said “Our goal is to shake the tree and find the entrepreneurs on campus.” He said it wasn’t just SBE students involved in the competition but representatives from every college and school.

Pitches ranged from the ultra high-tech—a device that converts your cell phone into a drone, to the practical, a sensor which measures a roof’s snow load.

In addition to Shaikh, Saturday’s winners and their business ideas included:

  • Audience Prize—Jacob Carley and Gabe Giddings, “Fitstop,” an app that allows travelers easy access to fitness centers by combining online day pass purchases and liability waivers.
  • Lifestyle Prize—Ankita Bakshi, “Puppy Ccino,” a pet-therapy/coffee shop providing doggy day care and caffeine.
  • Most Economic Impact on the UP—Jake Mager, “Supreme Duck Hunting,” the development of a social media community designed to encourage duck hunting and related conservation efforts.
  • Best Social Innovation—Mayank Bagaria and Arvind Ravindran, “VacChrono,” a storage system to extend the life and effectiveness of vaccines.
  • Best Elevator Pitch—Isaiah Pfund and Jack Horrigan, “The Split,” a device which converts water into renewable energy.
  • Most Disruptive Technological Innovation—Brennan Lautner, “PeerNet” challenging the way conventional internet works
  • Best Green Innovation—Cameron Philo, “3D Windmill,” compact unique windmill design to bring electricity to underdeveloped regions

Luplume said he was pleased with the competition and innovative ideas presented.  “We’ve found a lot of apples by shaking the tree. More than ever before.”

Michigan Tech’s student entrepreneurs can also pitch their ideas at the 2018 New Venture competition next spring at Central Michigan University. Michigan Tech students Nick Dubeil and Morgan Crocker captured the $30,000 top prize in the 2017 competition.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.