Lindner students shine in 2020 Innovation Quest Elevator Pitch Competition

Budding business entrepreneurs from Lindner represented half of 12 finalist teams

Two minutes. That, and an innovative business idea to solve a relevant problem is all that stood between dozens of student teams and the potential for grant money or cash to fund a startup.

The 2020 Innovation Quest E-Pitch (IQ E-Pitch) Competition attracted dozens of student teams from all UC colleges. Among the top finalists, six out of the 12 finalist teams across the four tracks — freshman, undergraduate, graduate and social enterprise — were composed of Lindner students.

IQ Elevator Pitch Competition logo with UC Center for Entrepreneurship & Commercialization tagline

Every year, the IQ E-Pitch Competition brings together student entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors from all over campus to pitch their start-up concepts to potential investors.

“As an all-university event that reaches 14 diverse colleges and includes freshmen through doctoral-level students, IQ E-Pitch is a unique competition among universities in our region,” said Tom Dalziel, PhD, founder of the IQ E-Pitch Competition, interim academic director for the UC Center for Entrepreneurship & Commercialization (CEC) and associate professor of entrepreneurship and strategic management. “We are proud of our innovative students and we are grateful to UC and our regional entrepreneurship ecosystem for their partnership in this annual event.”

Since its founding in 2010, the IQ E-Pitch competition has attracted more than 2,000 participating students in the competition’s history. In response to the competition’s consistent growth over and physical limitations of accommodating a live event, Ronald Meyers, undergraduate entrepreneurship program director at the Lindner and startup evangelist for the CEC, wisely anticipated and executed the competition’s pivot to digital submission and review of pitches for the 2020 competition.

As an all-university event that reaches 14 diverse colleges and includes freshmen through doctoral-level students, IQ E-Pitch is a unique competition among universities in our region. We are proud of our innovative students and we are grateful to UC and our regional entrepreneurship ecosystem for their partnership in this annual event.

Tom Dalziel, PhD Founder of the IQ E-Pitch Competition

For undergraduate students early in their business education experience, participating in the IQ E-Pitch competition brings classroom concepts to life so they can flex their entrepreneurial interests and pursuits in a safe environment, gaining a deep understanding of the high stakes of launching and sustaining a business.

“What I really find of value is that, at Lindner, we provide these experiential learning opportunities like IQ E-Pitch to students who are early in their academic career, and at many other business schools, students can’t pursue these opportunities until much later, such as junior or senior year,” Melissa Newman, PhD, assistant professor of management. “Providing these experiences to students early on allows our students to accelerate their learning and jump right in immediately.”

To come up with a product or to bring their business idea into focus, some students started with a problem to solve. The approach to solving that problem could be applied to the team’s competitive advantage.

“When we were thinking of ideas, we wanted to pursue a practical idea that was beneficial to users while promoting some concept of sustainability,” said Holly Giese of Receiptly, one of the first-place freshman teams. “That helped us uncover our competitive advantage — one of the very concepts we were discussing in class at the time — to help us narrow our focus onto reducing waste.”

Screenshot from the Receiptly presentation that has "The Team" written in text with pictures of the seven team members. Pictured are all seven team members: Tim Ankenbauer (left), Holly Giese, Aaron Bialon, Reese Vrooman, Nathalie Schickendantz, Jake Snyder, Evie Racadio.

The Receiptly team tied with Swaglets for first place in the freshman track in the 2020 IQ E-Pitch Competition. Pictured are all seven team members: Tim Ankenbauer (left), Holly Giese, Aaron Bialon, Reese Vrooman, Nathalie Schickendantz, Jake Snyder, Evie Racadio.

For Lindner’s first-year students in particular, participating in the competition complements Project Innovation, one third of the Lindner First-Year experience (the other two thirds are Project Strategy and Project Impact).

“Business in general is always a ‘team activity,’” said Catalin Macarie, director of freshman experience and assistant professor of management. “I can’t be more proud of all my 30 first-year teams and their amazing growth, development and success this year. All of them did an amazing job putting together their presentations in such professional manner and such a short period of time, and the results shows the level of maturity and understanding of their own business acumen.”

Students learn to not only work together in groups, but how to conduct themselves with potential external vendors and suppliers to build long-lasting relationships.

“For me, the most interesting part of the process was creating our prototype and 3D printing it in order to receive feedback from the pane,” said Gray Palmer of Swaglets, one of the first-place teams in the freshman track. “Speaking with different injection mold companies and receiving actual quotes for the product was a great experience.”

One female student with long dark hair stands to the left of three male students, all with short dark hair and wearing various hoodies, in front of a powerpoint presentation with the word "Swaglets" on the screen

Swaglets was one of the two teams that tied for first place in the freshman track. Pictured are four of the five team members: Kristen Nestor (left), Gray Palmer, Grant Graeter and Brad Gallop.

Congratulations to all finalist teams. View the pitch videos of the Lindner teams that placed in any of the top three placements for each of the four trakcs, below.

Freshman Track

First Place (tie): Swaglets

Participating students:

  • Brad Gallop, BBA ’24
  • Grant Graeter, BBA ’23
  • Kristen Nestor, BBA ’23
  • Gray Palmer, BBA ’23
  • Zach Segal, BBA ’23

First place (tie): Receiptly

Participating students:

  • Tim Ankenbauer, BBA ’23
  • Aaron Bialon, BBA ’22
  • Holly Giese, BBA ’23
  • Evie Racadio, BBA ’23
  • Nathalie Schickendantz, BBA ’23
  • Jake Snyder, BBA ’24
  • Reese Vrooman, BBA ’23

Third place: Refuge

Participating students:

  • Isabel Coomes, BBA ’23
  • Joe Guzik, BBA ’23
  • Andrew Rinke, BBA ’23
  • Alexia Thomas, BBA ’23

Undergraduate Track

Second place: Smart Tags

Participating students:

  • Kelsey Huffner, BBA ’20
  • Julia Less, BBA ’20
  • Kunjal Patel, BBA ’20
  • Madina Washburn, BBA ’20

Third place: FEED

Participating students:

  • Gabriel Dotterweich, BA ’23
  • Micaela Goldstein, BAS ’22
  • Aaron Ha, BS ’22
  • Haley Harb, BBA ’22
  • Luke Shivers, BBA ’23

Social Enterprise Track

Second place: University Breezeway

Participating students:

  • Sophie Ison, BBA ’23
  • Allison Napier, BBA ’23
  • Gavin Vargas, BBA ’24

Featured image: The inside of Carl H. Lindner Hall at 2906 Woodside Drive. Photo by Alex Fradkin Photography via Henning Larsen Architects.

About the Lindner College of Business

At the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, we are committed to developing the next generation of business leaders. By nurturing business problem solvers for more than 110 years, we’ve served as catalysts for innovation and cutting-edge research. Through experiential learning and personalized career development, our students graduate with a competitive advantage in the workforce, ready to tackle global challenges. 

Related Stories


33rd annual UC Real Estate Center Dinner celebrates vibrant...

June 27, 2024

Nearly 600 real estate professionals, students, alumni and supporters packed Cincinnati Music Hall on June 12 for the University of Cincinnati Real Estate Center’s 33rd annual Real Estate Dinner. Attendees showed out to celebrate Lindner’s real estate students and the night’s top honoree Gregg Fusaro, partner, CIG Communities, recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.

Debug Query for this