November 06, 2013

Student’s business ‘elevator pitch’ earns award

by Christi Mathis

Alex HutchinsonCARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale student Alex Hutchinson recently won one of the top prizes in a national business concept competition.

Hutchinson, a senior marketing major from Johnsburg, won an SIU elevator pitch competition sponsored by the College of Business and the Illinois Small Business Development Center.  In doing so, he earned an all-expense paid trip to the national 2013 annual CEO Conference in Chicago, Oct. 31-Nov. 2.  More than 100 students applied to the Elevator Pitch competition at the conference and just 60 were chosen to compete, including Hutchinson. 

Competitors had just 90 seconds, about the time it takes for the average elevator ride, to “pitch” their business concepts as they would to convince someone to invest in their ideas. The top 12 “pitches” advanced to the semifinals and the best six to the finals.

With his pitch for “Gluten Free Foodie,” Hutchinson claimed fourth place and a $500 cash prize to start his business.  His was highest prize won by an SIU student in the five years of the competition.  He earned the award for his innovative app that he believes “will revolutionize the dining experience for the gluten-free community.” 

The app offers safe, gluten-free procedures to assure safe, gluten-free preparation of foods cooked at home, according to Hutchinson.

“The CEO National Elevator Pitch was such an enlightening experience for me,” he said.  “I polished my public speaking abilities and saw the influence of networking at work.  The weekend was never about the cash prize but rather about the experience that I could not put a price on, including hearing advice directly from established men and women in respected business fields.  Nevertheless, I can say that this competition boosted my confidence in my concept and while I am proud of my fourth-place standing in the finals, I have every intention of returning next year for that first-place prize.”

Also attending the conference from SIU were Jenni Janssen, coordinator for external and executive education for the College of Business; Katie Tebbe, a senior marketing major from Breese; Lane Dillard, a senior supply chain management major from Carbondale; and Gabriel Gohery, a senior mechanical engineering and marketing major from Evansville, Ind. 

All four students are members of Saluki CEO Corps, a campus registered student organization.  The organization is open to all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of major.  For more information about Saluki CEO Corps or how to sign up, email or call 618/453-3030.