Bouncing Ideas and Tuning the Pitch: Entrepreneurship at the College

If you want to make it as an entrepreneur, you need to get an early start. So, it’s no surprise that students begin showing up to their New Venture Creation class even before the classroom is officially open for the day. It’s Pitch Day, and the students are busy getting ready to share their business ideas and market research with their teachers—Assistant Professors of Business Administration Lucia De Paz (US’96, C’00) and Peter Tosto (US’80)—as well as their peers.

The groups of four to five students have been working on their businesses for a couple of months, and this is their first chance to present their ideas to an audience. The four groups' business plans show the kind of creative problem-solving that these students will need in future careers, whether they become entrepreneurs or not.

The first group is a little nervous initially but quickly warms up as they present their product. “The thing that makes Gym Caddie different is that we bring everything together,” says the group’s “CEO” Josh Aleman (C’22). Beyond just a gym bag, the group’s product “helps users feel confident and complete when they go to the gym to work out.”

Other ideas from the class include:

  • An electronic bracelet that “addresses the need for safety in the nightlife scene for college-age women,” says Charlie MacIntire (C’22),
  • A water-bottle cleaning station for use in public spaces like airports, museums, and universities, and
  • A specialized AI platform like Siri or Alexa that helps senior adults stay connected with their families while remaining independent.

Since launching an entrepreneurship program in 2019, Principia College has focused on preparing students for careers in business and other fields where innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving are essential. Principia offers entrepreneurship as both a minor and a concentration within the business administration major. Recently, the College also launched the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The center is not only a hub for the classes and programs available on campus, but also provides resources to any students, alumni, or community members who are launching businesses and developing new products and services. For more information, visit the College’s new Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Across campus and around the St. Louis area, Principia College is gaining entrepreneurial traction. University HQ, a leading online college-ranking resource currently lists Principia College as #61 for the Best Affordable Entrepreneurship Degree in the nation. At a recent Idea Bounce event at Washington University, Chris Mawere (C’22) got the chance to see how Principia stacks up against other colleges and universities. “I felt like we were actually quite ahead in what we are learning here—our level of competency was pretty high. It was a reassurance that we are on the right path.”

Principia’s entrepreneurship students are also making a good showing at business-innovation gatherings like the New Venture Café and Inno Ecosystem101 in St. Louis. And the Principia College campus calendar is flush with events like Idea Bounce and Innovation Challenge 2022 where students and non-students pitch their ideas. At the April Innovation Challenge competition, the Crema Coffee Company won first place for their idea of bringing custom flavored coffee and latte service to events using a portable cart and branded cups that feature an organization’s logo.