Washburn business entrepreneurs pitch creative ideas for big money

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TOPEKA (WIBW) -- Six students. $25,000 on the line to help take their potential business ideas to the next level.

That's what was at stake in the 2016 Washburn Business School Pitch Competition, almost a local version of the "Shark Tank" television show.

A panel of judges with extremely smart heads for business listened to the student's pitches, asked about their business models, and coached them on potential problems with their ideas during Thursday night's entrepreneurship experiment in Bradbury-Thompson Alumni Center.

There was Lindsay Jones, the 3rd place finisher, talking about her plans to start a doggy food service business complete with franchises, revamped buses, vans and campers to bring canine food service to the next level. Or the 4th place finishers, Washburn students Rachel Darey and her business partner, Christina Foreman on their clever idea to use 3D foot scanners and a database to create custom fitted ballet shoes with the specific dimensions for a dancer's feet, in their business called "Fit to the Pointe."

After questions on patents and production, the judges were even more impressed with Nathan Burkholder and his business selling alternating tread attic ladders so the people who buy them and take them home, don't ever have to walk up or down a conventional fold-down ladder holding items in their hands while they try to make their way to the attic. His idea earned him $6,000 in the competition.

Grand prize winners Connor England and Mark Feuerborn described their very inventive idea to create a Keurig-type dispenser for cooking spices, which would always electronically dispense the exact amount of packaged spices for recipes. Their "Allspice" business will move to the next level with the $9,000 check of seed money they earned.. after hundreds of hours of research and preparation on the idea.

Last night's Pitch Competition was co-sponsored by Go Topeka and Washburn's School of Business' "Be Ready" Entrepreneurship program.