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“Crazy ideas go far.” Student entrepreneurs pitch business ideas, land cash prizes at Appleton event

Lawrence University student Safiya Grant takes questions from the judges at The Pitch on Wednesday. Photo by Robert Chappell.

The top three business pitches in Appleton on Wednesday included a skin care line, a dental screw and an on-campus food delivery service. 

All three made their cases to a panel of judges at The Pitch, the eighth annual event organized by the Fox Connection for Creative Entrepreneurship, a consortium of colleges and universities in Northeast Wisconsin.

St. Norbert College, Lawrence University, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Green Bay and UW-Stevens Point each held their own pitch competitions, and sent the best two to The Pitch, which was held at The Fox Club at Fox Cities Stadium.

Taking the top prize of $10,000 and a bevy of services was Haley Densow from UW-Stevens Point and her business, DormDash, an app that will allow students to use their meal plans to have food delivered to their residence halls. She said she’s already working with campus administration to integrate the service by the fall semester, and then hopes to scale up to other campuses.

Hear from the winners on today’s 365 Amplified podcast:


“The slogan for DoomDash Dashers is ‘get paid to walk back to your dorm room,’” she said, as the service would rely on students who get paid to bring meals to other students in their dorms. “You can make easy money for doing something that you do on a daily basis. And we actually asked people in a survey, and over 50% of the 500 responses said that they were extremely interested in becoming a Dasher.”

Haley Densow makes her pitch on Wednesday. Photo by Robert Chappell.

Taking the second prize of $5,000 was Matthew Scheele from St. Norbert College. His business Augmented Alloy is working to develop a process to make the titanium screws used in dental implants resistant to bacterial infection. He said about five to 10 percent of dental implants fail due to infection, and early tests indicate his process shows promise. 

He said he hopes to ride a wave of new technology in dentistry.

“The research that’s been going into these things in recent years has been amazing,” he said. “The new applications that we have within the dental implant space, it’s taking off, so it’s a great time to really invest in that.”

Coming in third was Muse, a skin care product and lifestyle brand founded by Lawrence University student Safiya Grant. Her lotions and body washes are made with natural ingredients, and especially designed for the skin of people of color.

“I wanted to create a product that, for one, actually works, but two, doesn’t harm you in any way when you use it,” she said of the reason she focused on natural ingredients. “Obviously your skin is the biggest organ in your body. Why would you not want to take care of it the best way that you can?”

She said she also wants to create a lifestyle brand through events and a strong social media presence, largely as a differentiator.

“There’s so many skincare brands on the market. I don’t want it to just be another brand that you like or you just hear about and then you move on the next day,” she said. “I want it to be something that is ingrained within the cultures of these communities, especially because it’s made for you. Something to embrace. And I also think that creates a really good, long-lasting customer base.”

The winners said the process was an educational one.

“I think the most valuable part of this competition is its ability to bring together students of different backgrounds and skill sets across institutions and regions. Seeing how others are progressing their own entrepreneurial ideas is incredibly inspiring and bridging that knowledge and experience makes for a better Northeast Wisconsin,” Scheele said. “As for my own process in preparing for The Pitch, I learned more about the importance of telling a story through our business ideas. We want our creations to connect with a purpose and a goal beyond monetary gain, and the students participating in this competition showed just that with such personal motives behind every pitch.”

“I learned how to tailor my pitch to the audience,” Densow said. “It’s one thing having a good idea but being able to sell your idea with emotion is what will take you far. The Pitch is important for young entrepreneurs because everyone there wants to help you succeed and it puts you in an environment with other like-minded people. I was telling myself on the drive up to the competition that even if I lose, I will walk away with more knowledge and experience than I had before and that’s a win in my book. That is something I believe young entrepreneurs need to hear so they don’t get discouraged.”

Densow also offered some advice to other young entrepreneurs.

“Just go for it,” she said. “I thought of this last year at this very time in spring. I didn’t think anything of it because I thought, ‘What am I going to do? I’m a broke college student, I don’t have the funds to build an app.’ And then I just thought about it. I’m like, ‘You know what, you only live once,’ so I just did it. And I reached out to people and I said, ‘Hey, I have this kind of crazy idea. And they’re like, ‘Crazy ideas go far.’ So my advice to other people is to just do what makes you feel uncomfortable, because you will go extremely far. If you don’t try you can’t grow.”