CLEMSON — Budding entrepreneurs recently presented their ideas for the next best thing in smartphone apps, medical devices and water disinfection at the third annual Pitch Smackdown sponsored by the Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Clemson University College of Business.

Abram Pleta pitches his water disinfection process at Pitch Smackdown.

Abram Pleta pitches his water disinfection process at Pitch Smackdown.
Image Credit: Emily Agate

Nearly 40 students and faculty members pitched their business startup ideas across a wide range of disciplines, including bioengineering, biochemistry, chemistry and business. Students and faculty presented their business concepts, some in embryonic stages to fully developed products, as individuals or as teams.

“Interest and enthusiasm in this program has grown each year,” said Matthew Klein, Spiro Institute director. “This year’s group is indicative of the strong spirit of entrepreneurship that exists at Clemson University and speaks to the kind of innovative minds that learn and teach here.”

The fast-paced business idea competition requires entrepreneurs to present their startup proposals to a panel of judges in three minutes. At stake was prize money for winners to invest in their businesses and bragging rights. More than $32,000 was awarded to seven winners.

Many of the judges were Spiro Institute board members who traveled from around the country to participate. All of the judges had successfully launched their own businesses, and a number of their firms invest in startup companies.

The winners, their ideas and prize money included:

  • Melissa Clampitt, business administration – Conceal-carry “Clutch” holsters for women, $2,500;
  • Maria Sarmiento, biochemistry – “Flexspark” for blood clot prevention, $2,500;
  • Jason Shaffer, bioengineering – Lids for nosey cups, $2,500;
  • Jeffrey Anker, chemistry – Bone fracture healing measurement, $5,000;
  • Ryan Borem, bioengineering – Vitality Orthopedics “AnuPly” spinal disc collagen repair, $5,000;
  • James White, business – “RAAD”  app that gets patrons to the front of  the line for a fee, $5,000;
  • Abram Pleta, automotive engineering, – “Silecte” water disinfection process, $10,000.

“It’s gratifying to see more and more of these innovative minds present ideas that have been well thought out and are viable business opportunities,” Klein said. “As the hub of entrepreneurial learning at Clemson, the Spiro Institute takes great pride in helping shape tomorrow’s business leaders who will contribute to the economic development of the region, state and nation.”