CLEMSON — More than 30 competitors stepped into the ring in November to compete in the second annual Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership Pitch Smackdown to try to win an all-expenses paid trip to Silicon Valley.

Using three minutes of stage time and three slides, presenters pitched their best business ideas to a panel of judges made up of members of the Spiro advisory board. The fast-paced event included such diverse ideas as a bakery food truck, a website to help locate and purchase items seen in the movies, a real-time language translator and a student-run travel company.

Five students from the Smackdown were awarded trips that include travel, transport, food and lodging, a crash course in raising venture capital and exclusive tours of eight prestigious Silicon Valley companies, including meet-and-greets with key executives and potential investors.

Three students were awarded the trip as a result of a campuswide selection process sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community and the Spiro Institute.

The winners are:

  • Jasmine Ellis of Charlotte;
  • Brandi Lindoe of Holbrook, New York;
  • Diane True of North Augusta, South Carolina;
  • Ashley Tam of Aiken;
  • Stephen Krupka of Simpsonville;
  • Adam Cook of Chapin;
  • Bakari Hargrave of Columbia; and
  • Charles Wang of Changsha, China.

John Hannon, who oversees and mentors the Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community, believes the trip has the potential to be life-changing.

“This trip may prove to be a pivotal career event for some of the participants,” he said.