TCU junior wins Entrepreneurship Club Elevator Pitch Competition


Paul Freeman pitching Headstrong Wearables to the panel of judges on Sept. 19. Courtesy of Cindy Smith.

By Gracie Livingston

TCU’s Entrepreneurship Club Elevator Pitch Competition Tuesday night yielded some very “headstrong” ideas.

Paul Freeman, a business information systems and supply chain double major, beat 17 other students to win the competition with his pitch for Headstrong Wearables– a wearable technology for construction hats that monitors workers’ vitals to prevent heat exhaustion on the job. His first place win carries a $500 prize and an all-expense paid trip to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization National Conference in October to compete in the CEO Global Pitch Competition.

The idea for Headstrong Wearables came from Freeman’s experience working railroad construction in the Kansas summer heat and a challenge from his professor.

“As part of an experimental class I am taking this semester, Design Thinking, Professor Dusty Crocker challenged us to look for a problem in the world,” he said. “Immediately, I thought of my experience in the rail yard.”

Freeman said the same class helped him prepare for the competition.

“The class revolves around creative idea generation and rapid prototyping,” Freeman said. “We’re challenged to work both independently and collaboratively to identify and solve both business and social problems.”

Freeman plans on taking his winning pitch to the Shaddock Venture Capital Fund Pitch competition this semester where he has the opportunity to win up to $10,000 in grant money to help take his concept to the next step. He said while it would be cool to get funding for Headstrong Wearables through the Shaddock Venture Capital Fund Pitch competition, he is ultimately looking at the experience as an excellent learning opportunity.

Cory Hood received second place and $300 for Helios, an insulated cup that would “revolutionize the way you drink coffee.” Third place and $200 went to Sarah Mitchell for Cupcake Buds and Blooms, a collapsible insert allowing bakers to create cupcake bouquets.

Each contestant had 90 seconds to pitch their new product or service to a panel of three judges who are all entrepreneurs in the Fort Worth area. The judges included CEO and founder of Cathedral Capital Brooke Lively, a consultant at Southern Oak Consulting Greg Saltsman and the founder of Piñatagrams Nathan Butorac. All three are alumni of the M. J. Neeley School of Business.

Other pitches this semester ranged from color changing gum that indicates blood alcohol level to a smart technology for your refrigerator which can tell when your produce is about to expire.

Christine Clutterbuck, president of TCU’s Entrepreneurship Club, said there are two main reasons the club hosts the competition every semester.

“The first is to give the winner the opportunity to go to the CEO conference and compete there,” Clutterbuck said. “The second reason is we have seen how valuable this competition is for being a successful networker. It gives students the chance to practice pitching ideas to real entrepreneurs.”

The Elevator Pitch Competition and the Shaddock Venture Capital Fund Pitch competition is open to more than just business students.

Lin Nelson, a key advisor to the TCU Entrepreneurship Club, said, “We open these events to students of all majors because whether someone is an artist, musician, or engineer, they could find themselves at some point possibly starting their own business.”