An “elevator pitch” is a metaphorical term used to describe a brief presentation by a business owner or entrepreneur to potential investors. The implication is that if the value of the idea can’t be conveyed in 30 seconds, or the duration of a typical elevator ride, then investors probably won’t bite.
But the term is being made literal at the national “Real” Elevator Pitch Competition in St. Louis, Missouri this weekend—and West Virginia University student Anthony Braxton will be there, proposing an urban farm that will benefit economically disadvantaged neighborhoods to provide communities both healthy food and hope for the future.
Braxton, a senior business management major in the College of Business and Economics, learned of the competition through the WVU LaunchLab, the university’s resource center for students interested in developing a new product or business.
Having worked with several members of the LaunchLab’s collaborative, hands-on staff, Braxton developed a compelling 30-second video pitch that secured him a finalist spot in the “Real” Elevator Pitch Competition.
In St. Louis, Braxton will pitch his idea to real investors also serving as competition judges several times over the course of a single day. This time, though he and his audience will be in a real elevator, traveling up and down the 40 stories of skyscraper One Met Square in St. Louis. If he wins, he will receive $2500 and a trip to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas in March 2017.
“Anthony is already a winner. He is one of only 12 selected from applicants from across the country participating in the ‘Real’ Elevator Pitch Competition. The experience he will have in St. Louis will be invaluable to him,” said LaunchLab director Carrie White.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Braxton has been an extremely involved student during his years at WVU. He has served in the Student Government Association, been a member of the Mountaineer Maniacs, and worked as a resident advisor. He will graduate in May and join the Target Corporation, a company whose commitment to community development he admires.
Braxton is excited to ride that really long elevator and make his pitch again this weekend. He credits the staff at the LaunchLab for giving him the confidence in his idea and the tools to make a successful pitch.
“They don’t hold your hands,” he said, “but they do provide great feedback and push you to refine on your ideas. If I win, I’ll be back to work with the Launchlab to make my urban farm a reality.”