Nolte to compete in CEO National Conference

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Nolte to compete in CEO National Conference

October 29, 2014, Emily Precht

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Brandon Nolte, winner of the
2014 Saluki CEO Corps Elevator Pitch competition

The Office of Economic and Regional Development, in partnership with the Saluki CEO Corps, hosted its annual Saluki CEO Corps Elevator Pitch competition Oct. 15 at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center.

“The Elevator Pitch Competition is a 90-second pitch to give potential investors about your business concept,” said Brandon Nolte, the winner of the competition. “During this time the contestants are judged on identifying a problem with the solution, the market, revenue and profit projections, and milestones that they have achieved in the startup.”

The judges for the competition included:

  • Ted Gutierrez, business counselor of the Illinois Small Business Development Center.
  • Greg Bouhl, assistant director of entrepreneurship and business development of the Illinois Small Business Development Center.
  • Dr. Cheryl Burke Jarvis, associate dean of the College of Business.
  • Donna Margolis, director of MBA programs in the College of Business.

Nolte, a senior majoring in business management with an emphasis in entrepreneurship, took first-place honors out of a group of seven students who participated. He received a trip to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization national conference Oct. 30-Nov. 1 in Orlando, Florida, to represent the Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization chapter at Southern Illinois University. He also received tips from the judges on how to prepare for the national convention.

Nolte’s winning pitch was for Next Level Gaming Center, a new store that will offer a one-of-a-kind environment for video gamers using the newest technologies, video games, and facilities to provide an atmosphere that promotes social gaming. Nolte had been working on this concept for about a year and a half before presenting it at the competition.

When asked to identify the most challenging part about the competition, Nolte replied, “I think I speak for most of the participants on this: Speaking in front of potential investors and peers is difficult and brings up a lot of nervous feelings. I had to put a lot of practice into my pitch just for it be clear and concise. Ninety seconds isn’t a lot of time to explain your business, especially if it is an underrated market.”

Nolte added that, in a competition such as this one, each participant has to find a way to stand out, and that was something he was able to accomplish.

“I put a lot of time into researching material to understand the growth of the industry market,” he said. “I knew that if I memorized my pitch I could get lost with all my nerves, so I left myself outlets and different strategies if I got lost at a point to be able to continue.”

For anyone looking to start a business, Nolte recommended contacting the Saluki CEO Corps.

“I was hesitant at first to continue on with my idea,” he said. “But, with the help and networks I was able obtain with them, it really relit my passion and fire.”