On Feb. 3, first-year undergraduate business administration student Gabrielle Policella won the 2017 PepsiCo Pitch competition with her 120-second pitch on a safe, reliable, quick ice cube technology to detect the presence of date-rape drugs.
The competition, in its eighth year, aims to strengthen students’ presentation and persuasion skills, exposing them to the ‘art of the pitch’. All first-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) students complete a pitch as part of their required BU121 course each winter term.
Policella’s business idea, Safe Cubes, is a multi-purpose device that acts as a reusable ice cube that quickly changes colour when exposed to date-rape drugs.
“This provides one invaluable benefit: a comfortable, reliable and safe drinking experience,” she said as part of her pitch to judges who included PepsiCo executives, local entrepreneurs and Lazaridis School alumnus David Chilton (BA Econ ’95), former star of Dragons’ Den and author of the Wealthy Barber series.
In this Dragons’ Den style competition, Policella asked judges for $50,000 for 20% equity to help fund research and development of Safe Cubes. This mock ask did not win her $50,000 in cash, but did result in a $700 scholarship and a chance to interview for a summer internship or co-op position with PepsiCo Foods.
“Every year I come here and the pitches get better,” said Chilton. “This was an outstanding group. I am proud of you guys.” Chilton delivered a keynote address to all semi-finalists, imploring students to be authentic, nice, kind, and fair in work and life.
A total of over 1,000 students in BU121 pitched their best business idea to their peers and student teaching assistants who selected the best pitches to move on to the semi-finals. In this rigorous competition, the top 84 students pitched in the semi-finals and 12 students were selected to once again deliver their pitch in the finals.
Finalists (in alphabetical order):
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