KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Just Right Temp, a device to combat insomnia invented by Western Michigan University industrial and entrepreneurial engineering students, has won first place and $2,000 at the fifth annual K.C. O'Shaughnessy Business Pitch Competition and Showcase held March 24.
Morgan Kronner, of China, Michigan, the student who pitched Just Right Temp, says that the pitch competition got the team's product off the ground.
"It was an incredibly rewarding experience. We all got a great idea of what it will really be like in terms of selling our concept to industry," Kronner says of the competition.
The team is now weighing options on how to best use the winnings to advance their company and product.
Each year, students from across campus participate in Pitch to compete for cash prizes and take advantage of an important networking opportunity. Each company is allowed one person to present their pitch. Seven teams then continued to the final round judged by business community members.
"I was shaking the entire time," Kronner says of her final round pitch experience. "When I found out we had won, I was in complete shock. The other presenters were amazing, and I didn't have any expectations. I was and still am so proud of myself and my teammates for this win. I can't wait to see what comes next for our company."
Now in its fifth year, the competition is sponsored by Great Lakes Architectural Products Group, The Vernon Group and Robert and Risé Landeros.
The companies winning first, second and third and the people's choice award, their prize and the members of each team included:
- First place, $2,000, Just Right Temp, pitched by Kronner. Other business partners include industrial and entrepreneurial engineering majors Victoria Blaine, of Grosse Pointe Woods, Sarah Jozwiak of Livonia, and Aseel Munshi of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Just Right Temp is a device that monitors and helps regulate human body temperature while sleeping to combat insomnia.
- Second place, $1,400, The Rotating Drying Rack, pitched by Emma Dubensky, of Cement City, a civil engineering major. Other business partners include industrial and entrepreneurial engineering majors Cortney York of Warren and Jasmine Fails of Westland; and Michael Leonard, of Carmel, Indiana, a geology major. The Rotating Drying Rack is a slow spinning rack that solves the need for increased airflow and provides many other benefits when drying clothes. The design is quiet, low-energy, speeds up the drying process and leaves clothes smelling fresh.
- Third place, $800, Smart Shot, pitched by Conner Knepley, of Munith, a mechanical engineering major. Knepley's business partner is Jorge Diaz-Sanin of Lamont, Illinois, also a mechanical engineering major. Smart Shot is an advanced interactive pistol training system for law enforcement officers and armed civilians. The safe system prepares shooters for self-defense encounters and also includes an integrated cell phone application.
- People's choice, $300, Smart Shot.
The WMU Business Pitch Competition is named in memory of Dr. K.C. O'Shaughnessy, a professor of management in WMU's Haworth College of Business and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, who passed away in 2011. The work he started in the area of entrepreneurship led to the creation of events like this competition, the major and minor in entrepreneurship, and the formation of the business accelerator Starting Gate.
For more information about the competition or watch winners' videos, visit wmich.edu/pitch.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.