Entrepreneurial Thinking, Networking, and Pitching on Display at Winterim 2024
In mid-January, the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership hosted its annual entrepreneurial workshop, known as Winterim. The event brought 29 students to campus prior to the start of spring semester for a week of learning, networking, and mentoring, which culminated in a pitch competition for $13,000 in prizes.
by David Oehler BA ʼ14 and Tara Elsa BA ’25
The new year is off to a roaring start at Lewis & Clark with Winterim, the annual entrepreneurial workshop and pitch competition hosted by the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership. A total of 29 students elected to end their holiday break early to head to campus for a week of lectures, workshops, and collaborative activities, giving attendees an in-depth look at the process of starting a business or other entrepreneurial venture.
After a welcome dinner and opening speech from Jelani Memory, founder and CEO of A Kid’s Co., participants dove into an intensive four days of work. Students learned from professionals in design thinking, anxiety management, finance, branding, sales, networking, presenting, and more. They were supported along the way by a cadre of more than 40 local business leaders and entrepreneurs, including Paula Hayes BS ’92, CEO of Hue Noir Cosmetics and chair of L&C’s Board of Trustees; Alex Wills, global finance manager for Nike’s Jordan brand; and Carl Guess, executive presentation coach at Elevator Speech.
In addition to Winterim’s many learning and networking opportunities, participants worked in groups to develop ideas for detailed business pitches. At the end of the week, the groups made their pitches, going head-to-head for $8,000 in cash prizes (up from last year’s $6,000), and a $5,000 legal start-up package from law firm Perkins Coie. For the first time, Winterim audience members had the opportunity to vote for their favorite pitch, worth $1,500 in prize money. Also at stake were two invitations to InventOR’s boot camp event in May 2024, where participants can go on to compete for $30,000 in prizes.
Tony Abena BS ’86, operating partner at Lightview Capital, donated $10,000 for the cash prizes and extra food for the students. Judges of the final pitch competition included Alline Akintore, partner at Oregon Venture Fund; Devon Horace, principal at Portland Seed Fund; Ann McQuesten JD ’11, corporate partner at Perkins Coie; Mohan Nair, CEO at Emerge USA; Malia Spencer, reporter at the Portland Business Journal; and Christine Walter BA ’03, owner and head cider maker at Bauman’s Cider.
Of the 10 teams competing, four teams walked away with prizes. However, each team impressed the judges and audience members with their clear, thorough, and thoughtful pitch presentations, all of which were developed over the span of just a few days. “This is the best set of ideas I’ve ever seen in a Winterim event,” said Chrys Hutchings, managing director of the Bates Center.
“From crafting compelling pitch decks to mastering the art of public speaking and diving into the depths of financial literacy—the talks were a treasure trove of knowledge, and always have innumerable takeaways!”
“Each team had the drive to create something new, grounded in a desire to make someone’s life a little better.”
“This is my favorite thing to do every year. The students are great, and the ideas are exciting.”
“One of the most impactful aspects [of Winterim] is focused on connecting these students to amazing folks in the community.”
“I was struck by the students’ engagement and passion for their ideas. I was inspired by their excitement to listen and learn, ask questions, and publicly admit they did not know something when unable to answer a judge’s question.”
Pitch Competition Winners
First Place ($3,000 cash prize and $5,000 legal start-up package from Perkins Coie); Audience Choice Award ($1,500)
See Through: Aaliya Ahmed BA ’27, Elie Al Khoury BA ’26, and Justin Hope BA ’24
The See Through team pitched a product for a targeted, but potentially large market: individuals who wear prescription eyeglasses in environments where robust eye protection is needed, such as chemical labs. The team came up with the idea of an insertable, reusable corrective lens that can be attached directly to protective goggles. “Glasses beneath goggles are uncomfortable,” explained the students, and contacts beneath goggles are not recommended due to the humidity created. The team’s pitch was made all the more effective by their personal testimonies and their demonstrations of the inadequacies of standard lab goggles.
Second Place ($2,000 cash prize); Best Comprehension of the Problem Award ($1,500)
The Grandkids—Downsizing Simplified: Sujhad Amado Aguad BA ’24, Jonas Bray BA ’25, and Booth Linsley BA ’26
The Grandkids team focused on a difficult time in many lives: the point at which elderly family members can no longer safely live on their own or when finances require downsizing. The Grandkids pitched a streamlined, all-in-one service that includes consultation, estate sales services, and a moving process. Their pitch included emotional counseling to help seniors deal with the stress and sadness that frequently accompany this stage of life.
Third Place ($500); InventOR Boot Camp Invitation
PAUSE: Alex DeNuzzo BA ’26
PAUSE described their product as a box designed to help families struggling to connect despite the ever-present obstacle of cell phones. The product is a lockable container with a timing mechanism that family members can use to collectively separate themselves from their addictive devices. DeNuzzo described the product as “design-driven,” saying “it has to look good and feel good to use.”
InventOR Boot Camp Invitation
DolceBaby: Marzieh Ghaderi BA ’24, Arina Khoruzhenko BA ’26, José Maidana BA ’24, and Thoan Nguyen BA ’27
DolceBaby pitched a suite of eco-friendly baby products, including a pacifier that is made of biodegradable materials. The pacifier even contains a plantable seed, meaning the product can achieve fresh life by being disposed of in soil and growing a plant. The item addresses two problems by reducing the amount of rubber and plastic waste created by pacifiers as well as curtailing infants’ intake of microplastics.