Pitching the Perfect Game (Plan): Students Sell Their Business Ideas

By Dennis Walikainen | Published

First-place winners Travis Beaulieu and Joel Florek receive $1,000 from Dean Darrell Radson.
First-place winners Travis Beaulieu and Joel Florek receive $1,000 from Dean Darrell Radson.

At the Bob Mark Memorial Elevator Pitch Competition at Michigan Technological University on Nov. 14, 2011, students had three minutes to sell their next great business idea to a panel of judges. The pitches were as wide-ranging as they were clever.

Placing first--and winning the $1,000 top prize--was AsfalisMed, the creation of Travis Beaulieu and Joel Florek. Beaulieu is an applied physics major with a concentration in entrepreneurship and a minor in mathematics. Florek is a first-year engineering student and a member of the Pavlis Institute for Global Technological Leadership. Their business uses a secure online database and mobile application for access to medical information via QR codes on drivers licenses and student IDs.

"The idea started with QR codes on medical jewelry," Florek said, "and we realized that student IDs and drivers licenses would be a bigger market. We've been working on it almost every night for a long time."

“Yeah, we’ve been diligent,” Beaulieu agreed. “And we are going to present it to 10 other competitions across the nation.”

AsfalisMed also is a semifinalist in the statewide Accelerate Michigan innovation competition taking place in Ypsilanti, Mich., this week. 

David Shull took home second place and $500 with his business, Picket, a textbook rental operation. His idea differed from similar current operations in one significant way.

“It’s peer to peer,” he said, “students working directly with other students. Using a QR code [scanned by their cellphones], they can make a connection in 30 seconds to a minute.”

Shull said his business would profit by getting a service fee, similar to eBay and PayPal. He said students would also be able to recover all their costs.

The SafePlug took third place. It was the brainstorm of biomedical engineering student Anne Dancy and mechanical engineering student Brett Jenkins. It would automatically turn off heat-producing appliances for those who have forgotten to do so.

“A bracelet would turn off the devices—hair dryers, electric blankets, portable heaters—if the person moved more than 50 yards away,” Dancy said.

By their calculations, they could sell the item and show a 40 percent return on each sale.

Other elevator pitches focused on web-based news-gathering applications, wedding services, better bicycle tires for Africa, healthier bakeries, Chinese language coaches and services for visiting the elderly with a cup of coffee.

It was the first elevator pitch competition named for the late Bob Mark, the Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics professor who started the competition in 2007.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.

Last Modified 3:11 p.m. March, 29 2019