GCC students win $5K at Innovation Summit 2020


As part of National Entrepreneurship Week, Glendale Community College conducted an Innovation Summit on campus at 6000 W. Olive Ave.

The event, led by Dr. Gabriela Cojanu, faculty member of the GCC Business and Information Technology Department, provided education, training and a pitch competition with cash awards totaling $5,000 donated by Credit Union West. The Innovation Challenge pitch competition was open to GCC students only, however community members were invited to the various seminars to listen to panels and guest speakers.

The winners of the GCC Innovation Summit live pitch competition include: in first place, Mary Elizabeth Gilbertson, Tailored Tutoring, awarded $2,500; in second place, Jason Higgins, Jupiter Wings Buffalo Sauce, awarded $1,500; in third place, Kristin Kauder and Alyssa Ray, Whiskers Pantry & Care, awarded $1,000.

Judges for the live pitch competition were Credit Union West CFO Pamela Chan; Glendale Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Robert Heidt; Grand Canyon University New Business Development Center associate director Roxanne Segura; Maricopa SBDC Assistance Center director Jeff Swenson; and Easy Voice CEO Ron Babich.

The kick-off for this event was the Innovative Challenge Workshop.

“This two-day event was free and open to anyone who wanted the opportunity to learn how to compete in a pitch competition and bring their innovative ideas to light.” Ms. Cojanu stated in a college news release. “For participants of this workshop, a recording session was held providing an opportunity to make a short video explaining their ideas and how they would use the prize money if awarded. These videos were judged, and the top seven GCC student finalists were invited to give a live pitch at the Innovation Summit.”

The Innovation Summit featured keynote speakers, informational sessions and activities, dinner donated by Grand Canyon University, and culminated with the live pitch competition. The keynote speaker for the event was Kimber Lanning, founder of Local First AZ. She was followed by faculty Diane Sandborn, David Boninger, Fernando Romero and Peter Lupu, who gave inspirational, short presentations; entrepreneurship workshops conducted by Credit Union West community relations specialist Evan Norris; Mr. Babich; and Paradise Valley Community College professor and director of the Entrepreneurship Center Kishore Dash.

Also on the agenda was a Small Business Owner Panel, where participants asked questions of fellow entrepreneurs. The panel was made up of Keep It Cut owner Jacob Meltzer; Fit for Business owner Natalee Sticht; Purple Gurl’s Popcorn owner Kimberly Horton; Novie owner Carlos Velasco; White Tie Production owner Ross Snyder; and Mr. Babich.