Scott Christopher, president of MPowered Entrepreneurship and leader of the University of Michigan Central Student Government Entrepreneurship Commission, explains how a truckload of light bulbs came to represent the 1,000 Pitches competition, which gathered 4,500 pitches in 2012.
University of Michigan
Class of 2014
Majors: Business and Economics
When I arrived at The University of Michigan, I really didn’t know what I was looking for in a student organization, but one caught my eye immediately: MPowered Entrepreneurship. The students at MPowered were all excited, they were accomplishing big things in a short amount of time, and I wanted to join in on the fun!
Once I had joined MPowered, I immediately knew I found the correct student organization for me. By the end of my freshman year, I was appointed the project director of 1,000 Pitches, typically MPowered’s largest project and the world’s largest student-run elevator pitch competition. The previous year’s competition collected 3,031 pitches, so we decided that was our goal to beat. Even though I wasn’t starting a business, it was like I was running my own startup. We assembled a team of 20 members and started with only an idea of what we wanted to accomplish. In order to help guarantee our success, I decided to sign up for spring and summer classes so that I could spend the summer at The University of Michigan, which allowed me to spend any spare time I had on 1,000 Pitches. Throughout the summer, I worked long hours and conducted countless fundraising meetings.
Once the school year began, our goal was to start the competition off in a BIG way, and we wanted an eye-catching way to do that. I had a crazy idea; our t-shirts had a light bulb on them. Therefore, why not cover the center of campus with 1,000 light bulbs to represent 1,000 ideas? What seemed to be a simple task was met with a number of obstacles and a whole list of reasons why “you couldn’t do that.” It is hard to beat a person who won’t stop fighting, and ultimately, we gained the support that we needed and a green light to proceed. With a solid game plan in place, we were off and running with Operation: Let It Shine!
On the morning of the event, we drove into the center of campus at 4:00 a.m. in a rented U-Haul filled with everything we needed for our mission. We very systematically put out 1,000 cardboard bases that were painstakingly painted and decorated with our logo. After placing the bases in the prearranged pattern, we then put a light-bulb in each base. We finished setting up just as the first students were walking across campus. It was a huge way to start off the competition, and more importantly reinforced that fact that you can do anything you set your mind to no matter how many obstacles you have to overcome.
Throughout the eight-week competition, we were plagued with team member changes, website issues and a host of other problems, but in the end, we were able to collect 3,303 pitches, which surpassed our goal by 10 percent!
By keeping my eye on the ball and a focus on my goals, I have worked my way up through the ranks of MPowered. In my junior year at the U of M, I find myself as the president of MPowered Entrepreneurship and leader of the first-ever University of Michigan Central Student Government Entrepreneurship Commission. In the 2012 1,000 Pitches competition, we gathered a record number of 4,500 pitches.
In two short years, I have had a real taste of what entrepreneurship really is: many sleepless nights, long meetings and a passion to never give up! It is exciting to think about all that MPowered is going to accomplish this upcoming year, and how our mission continues to introduce many new students to entrepreneurship while expanding and supporting the student entrepreneurs on campus.
Onward and upward!
MPowered Entrepreneurship: mpowered.umich.edu
1,000 Pitches: 1000pitches.com
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