From 158 entries to 12 to three to one. The winner of WashU Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce powered by Poets & Quants is settled: PedalCell, a bike-connected power generator for portable devices—with its origins at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University—secured the $50,000 grand prize.
“I think the pitch went really well. The judges asked really good questions,” said Vishaal Mali, cofounder from Northwestern University. “They were really curious about the market opportunity and I felt like we did a good job of answering that.”
The PedalCell team competed before three judges at Olin Business School against presenters from OnDeck Fisheries AI from the University of British Columbia and MiDoc from WashU Olin. Judges originally intended to award second- and third-place prizes of $5,000 and $2,000, but they decided the other two teams had tied for second place. Both received $5,000.
The original 158 entries were winnowed down from written and video pitches provided during the course of the competition.
Representatives from the three finalists presented in-person to the judges: Akeem Shannon, CEO and founder of Flipstik; John Byrne, founder and editor-in-chief of Poets & Quants; and Maxine Clark, founder and former chief executive bear at Build-A-Bear Workshop.
OnDeck is a monitoring tool that uses AI to automatically quantify commercial fishing catches to aid with marine conservation while cutting costs. MiDoc, founded by Dr. Linda Wu, PMBA 48, has created an at-home “electronic stethoscope” that allows physicians to remotely conduct medical-grade lung and heart exams for patients during telehealth visits.
The months-long process began in November as the Olin and P&Q teamed up to launch the global pitch competition with $50,000 on the line. Semi-finalists were announced in February. And on Tuesday, the deciding video debuted from the in-person pitches by the three finalists—an in-person pitch event recorded March 3.
Conceived in the wake of Olin’s third consecutive year at #1 in Poets & Quants‘ ranking of MBA entrepreneurship programs, the pitch competition attracted entries from 158 student teams from 13 countries and 55 schools.
See the full pitch event
Doug Villhard, academic director for Olin’s entrepreneurship program, served as master of ceremonies for the event—greeting and introducing judges, transitioning between each pitch and doing quick backstage interviews with presenters to get their state of mind.
“I’m really glad that Poets & Quants gave us the chance to be there,” Wu said to Villhard in her post-presentation interview. “I think my favorite part was the ability to tell the audience about my product—and how beneficial this product could be to people.”
John Byrne interviews Team PedalCell
AT TOP: Judges hand the oversized $50,000 check to team members from PedalCell just before the balloon-drop at the 2022 BIG IdeaBounce powered by Poets & Quants. All photos by Jerry Naunheim.