Giving an Actual Elevator Pitch in the UT Tower Elevators

Global Venture Labs Investment Competition elevator pitch
A student from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (right) pitches his company's product: a next-generation digital pen that in real time transmits anything written on any piece of paper to a connected portable device. Photo by Samantha Harris/McCombs School of Business 

Quick: You've got 60 seconds and 20 square feet to convince someone to give you money for your business.

Most people know that "elevator pitch" is business lingo for a quick pitch about your company that you could give to a potentially valuable connection if you happened to ride in the same elevator or be given some other brief, unexpected networking opportunity. Hook them with your elevator pitch, and maybe they'll want to support your idea in some way.

But how often does an entrepreneur actually get the chance for a one-on-one, captive audience with a potential investor?

On Saturday, 22 students from around the world found themselves in just that position, thanks to a quirky new segment of the 31st annual Global Venture Labs Investment Competition hosted by UT's McCombs School of Business.

This year's student business plan competition saw the debut of the Nemec Elevator Challenge, giving 22 teams one minute on a (very small) UT Tower elevator with a competition judge. Each competitor pitched their company on the ride from the first floor to the 27th, concluding the pitch on the iconic Tower's observation deck overlooking campus and the Austin skyline.

Competitors reported being excited to have access to the famous Tower and that it was a refreshing change from a typical business plan competition, with a relaxed environment allowing for more time to mingle with each other and learn about their companies.

The top four teams each walked away with a $1,500 cash prize -- proof that an elevator pitch really can work.

(Visit McCombs TODAY to read more about the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, including the overall winner, who received a $75,000 prize package.)

Global Venture Labs Investment Competition elevator pitch
[Photo: Samantha Harris/McCombs School of Business] 
University of Texas Tower observation deck view
Competitors concluded their business pitches to the judges upon arriving at the Tower's observation deck. [Photo: Samantha Harris/McCombs School of Business] 

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This story is part of our yearlong series "Eyes on Innovation," which explores UT's world-changing ideas, fascinating discoveries and new ways of doing things.