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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

MSU graduate places 6th in elevator business pitch competition


By Jay Ballard

Staff Writer


Jesus Valdez, marketing research associate for the Thad Cochran Endowment for Entrepreneurship at MSU, won sixth place at the 2011 Elevator Pitch Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. 

The competition was organized by the Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Organization, and 128 competitors attended from many schools including Texas Christian University, Baylor University, Florida State University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Competitors were put in a simulated real-life situation in which they only had 90 seconds (about the time of an elevator ride) to pitch their business idea to professionals who might be interested in acting on their ideas.

Gerald Nelson, director of MSU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer, said this competition was a true test of the competitors’ knowledge and skills in the field of business.

“This was the ultimate of an elevator pitch competition at the collegiate level,” Nelson said.

This was not Valdez’s first success within the business field. He has already won the Mississippi Technology Alliance Business Plan Competition along with his business partner, which assured Nelson that Valdez would be fully capable of doing well in the Elevator Pitch Competition. This, along with other factors, including the fact that Valdez was already running a real business, led Nelson to sign him up for the competition.

Nelson said the College of Business looks for competitions such as these to help its students excel in the world of business.

“We want our students to be able to learn about entrepreneurship and take part in many meaningful competitions and events,” Nelson said. “Jesus not only learned business, but he also practiced business and entrepreneurship in the real world.”

Valdez said he credits the MSU Entrepreneurship Center advisory board for helping him gain presentation skills. 

He said pitching his idea was no problem, but he had to work at getting it down to 90 seconds while still being as personable as he is in normal conversation. Along with being quick and personable, he had to be just as persuasive as he would be if he had hours to pitch the idea.

Nelson said Valdez’s success in this competition came from his knowledge and hands-on experience in the field.

“Jesus was not just pitching an idea, he was pitching a real business,” Nelson said. “He knew what he was talking about.”

Allison Pearson, Giles Professor of Management in the College of Business and MSU Entrepreneurship Center advisory board member, said Valdez is a great example of what MSU students can do. He found a passion for it, and he now thrives and excels in the field.

“He’s doing something that fits his own skills and abilities,” Pearson said.

Through his work with the Entrepreneurship Center, Valdez entered a partnership with Robbie Spears, senior interdisciplinary studies major, who has created the guitar pedal company for which Valdez now serves as chief operating officer. The business is named The Juliet Collective.

Valdez said he and Spears want The Juliet Collective to become an increasingly better known company in Mississippi. Within the past few months, the company has earned about $15,000 in total revenue.

He said he hopes to continue in school to earn his Ph.D. so he can pass on his knowledge and experience to other students.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
MSU graduate places 6th in elevator business pitch competition