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WVU students compete in national ‘Real’ Elevator Pitch Competition


   Elevator Pitch Winners

A West Virginia University student placed second in a national competition that required him to explain his business idea in a 40-second elevator pitch. 

Ethan Ball, a senior Entrepreneurship and Innovation major in the College of Business and Economics, was one of two West Virginia University finalists in the St. Louis Elevator Pitch Competition. He plans to use the $1,500 award to further develop his prototype for an innovative housing solution.

Nima Shahab Shahmir, a sophomore  Information Systems major at  WVU Tech, also was chosen to participate as a finalist. He aims to replace plastics with biodegradable packaging grown from mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms. Shahmir represented the new  WVU Tech LaunchLab for the first time in a national competition with his  Future Fungi project.

Ball and Shahmir pitched their innovations to 36 potential investors, who handed out business cards that counted as points toward the grand prizes.

Members of the LaunchLab Network from Morgantown and Beckley worked together to prepare and send the students to the competition.

“We are absolutely thrilled and energized that our LaunchLab students from both Morgantown and Beckley were chosen to travel to St. Louis for such a high visibility, national competition,” said Carrie White , director of the WVU Morgantown LaunchLab “Both Ethan and Nima are winners.”

Nora Myers, director of the WVU Tech LaunchLab, emphasized the caliber of our students’ innovations.

“They were two of only 20 students selected from applicants across the country to participate,” Myers said. “The experience is invaluable to both of them to help pursue their business endeavors. Both of their futures are undoubtedly very bright."

Both WVU students received business cards from interested investors and had the chance to meet other entrepreneurs from across the US and Canada.

Supporting entrepreneurs and innovators on every step of their journey, the LaunchLab Network offers everything from one-on-one mentorship to prototype development facilities, resources and connections to investors.

WVU LaunchLab is part of the  WVU Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Applied Ecosystem, a university-wide web of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship among WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community.

Other areas include the  LaunchLab network,   IDEA Faculty Fellows WVU Women’s Business Center,  Davis Young Innovators program,  WVU Extension Service Brickstreet Center for Innovation and EntrepreneurshipPatent and Trademark Resource CenterHealth Sciences Innovation CenterLegal ClinicsMedia Innovation CenterManufacturing Extension Partnership, the  MakerLab and  Technology Transfer. 



CONTACT: Carrie White, WVU LaunchLab

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Provost Institute of Technology College of Business and Economics