Pitch your business idea

Presenting an ideal business model is a challenging task. Doing it in 90 seconds is nearly impossible. But don’t tell that to the Launch Pad at the University of Miami.

Launch Pad, part of the Toppel Career Center, is hosting its second Elevator Pitch Contest, beginning next week. An elevator pitch is a brief overview of a company, product or service, delivered to a judging panel in the span of an elevator ride- less than 90 seconds.

The 2009 winner, Sean Goldfaden, says the key to victory is not necessarily the product or service contestants are presenting, but the presentation itself.

“It’s nearly impossible to convey an entire business plan that’s actually good in only 90 seconds,” says Goldfaden. “When I won the competition last year, it was because I knew my target market, my product and my ability to connect the two.”

Goldfaden’s pitch for $10 sunglasses stole the show a year ago, and his business has flourished since. His products have recently been re-branded and can be found at playfarer.com, facebook.com and wayfarerworld.com.

Launch Pad serves both beginning and experienced entrepreneurs, assisting with opportunity recognition, and strategies for starting and growing companies. The Elevator Pitch Contest is a way for the Launch Pad to help companies and educate South Florida entrepreneurs.

Online registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on this Sunday. The competition, sponsored by The Miami Herald, consists of preliminary and final rounds. Prelims will be held next week Monday to Thursday at  locations around South Florida; UM’s round begins at 7 p.m. Monday.

In order to compete, contestants must already have a for-profit business. This year will consist of two separate categories, students and community. The student section this year is open to UM students as well as other college scholars and even high schoolers.

Lexi Matiash, head of public relations and event planning at the Launch Pad, said that the Elevator Pitch Contest series will award more than $100,000.

“The prizes last year are divided among four finalists. About 20 of the contestants in the preliminaries rounds will move on to the finale,” says Matiash.

The contest is free and open to the South Florida community of entrepreneurs with existing for-profit businesses. Finalists will compete in two categories with prizes awarded to the winners. The finale will be held Nov. 16 during Global Entrepreneurship Week at UM.

For more information on the Elevator Pitch Contest, go to TheLaunchPad.org or call 305-284-2789.

Andrew Dymburt may be contacted at adymburt@themiamihurricane.com.