Though the event is called, “The Big Pitch – The Ultimate College Competition,” three colleges collaboratied to create a contest to support students and their entrepreneurial endeavors. The participating colleges, ASU, GCU, and MCCD, each selected three students with an idea or a company less than a year old to pitch at the competition. 

The pitch took place during the Venture Café Phoenix Thursday Gathering to providing students access to a great network of support.

The awards were sponsored by Wells Fargo and APS and the student companies had the opportunity to win one of three prizes:  Best Small Business ($4,000), Best Tech Business ($4000), and People’s Choice ($2000). 

Here is one students’ story . . .

Lily was shocked when she learned that a staggering 12 million tons of furniture were thrown away each year. That’s a lot of furniture ending up in our landfills!

With her keen eye for design and a knack for repurposing items, Lily set out on a mission to rescue unwanted furniture. She had a vision to design the pieces tailored to the needs of her customers. Whether it was a cozy armchair, a sturdy dining table, or a stylish bookshelf, Lily transformed discarded items into something beautiful and valuable. Brightside Furnishing has been steadily growing with 71 sales recorded last year.

Lily applied through MCCD and secured one of the three slots to pitch in “The Big Pitch – The Ultimate College Competition.”

On competition night, all nine students were brought together, not with a competitive attitude, but as possible resources, peers on a tough journey, and they all took full advantage of it. 

After Lily pitched, she waited for what must have felt like an eternity, then moment of truth she arrived. Lily was announced as the “Best Small Business” category winner, earning her a well-deserved prize of $4,000.

Lily shared what the experience meant for her.

“Having the opportunity to participate in the Big Pitch competition at Venture Café Phoenix put me in front of an audience that was distinctly supportive in a way I hadn’t experienced before. The event hosts a diverse gathering of all ages, backgrounds, and industries, uniting them to make each competitor feel valued and encouraged.

 When I spoke about my company, I felt free to put aside my usual tactic of gauging what they would find the most interesting. Instead, I spoke candidly about the parts of my small business that I am most proud of and passionate about. The response was overwhelming; I walked away with valuable input, new resources, and 1st place in the Small Business category of that night’s competition.

The award entitled me to a $4,000 prize to be invested in my business. I intend to use the funding to get into my first dedicated workspace, a milestone that several months ago seemed completely unattainable but is now in motion. I couldn’t be more thankful for the incredible experience offered by Venture Café Phoenix and the Big Pitch competition. The event will be a wonderful memory to carry and encourage me as I grow and develop my business.”

Lily Guzman
Founder, Brightside Furnishings
Furniture Restoration

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