Inaugural student pitch competition sparks entrepreneurship

Julia Seay, ‘24, won with a carbon emission solution for factories and businesses


Seay won the Student Pitch Competition with GOES, and is now patent-pending for the idea. Photo courtesy of The Columns.

Jess Kishbaugh

The Student Pitch Competition that took place over Young Alumni Weekend was the first of its kind. 

Typically, there’s a student pitch competition as part of the Entrepreneurship Summit in the spring but those pitches only last about 90 seconds. These pitches were much longer.

Student presentations were composed of a slide set describing the students’ business plans, which lasted five minutes, and a two-minute question and answer period.

There were eight participants and first, second and third were awarded prizes based on the alumni and faculty judges.

The Connolly Entrepreneurship Society (CES), conducted this competition and shelled out around $2,500 in prize money.

After learning that they wouldn’t be able to help in the planning of the pitch competition during the 2022 Entrepreneurship Summit, McKenzie Napier, ’22, and Whit Rudder, ’22, began to put together a new competition.

“We knew we wanted an event that encouraged student leadership and participation,” said Napier, “We began brainstorming an event that we could hold on our own.”

And they did. Planning for the competition began last school year. The group then presented the idea to the Williams School’s administration and got approval.

After selecting a group of presentations from the applicant pool, Napier and Rudder held a series of sessions to prepare the presenters leading up the competition.

The winner, Julia Seay, ’24, pitched a solution for carbon emissions from factories in a business called the Global Ozone 

Environmental System (GOES). GOES attaches specialized greenhouses to buildings emitting carbon dioxide. Then the plants inside will process the carbon dioxide into oxygen preventing it from going into the atmosphere.

“Even if recycling or the solutions that are advertised to us seem good, we have to come up with something else,” said Seay of her thought process. “We have to come up with something that doesn’t put the responsibility on the consumer.”

Seay said she came up with her plan in high school and has been developing it ever since.

She said she is even working on getting her idea patented and networking with other businesses. Next, she’ll work toward getting research started.

But she says that the competition was a great first step.

“I really enjoyed it, and I’m glad I did it. It was definitely a learning experience,” Seay said. “I know I can’t do everything, but if I can learn a little bit of everything for the sake of GOES I would.”

The pitches were judged on viability, the speech, the quality of the presentation and creativity.

“Afterwards, a couple of professors who were in the audience and who have been champions of entrepreneurship at W&L shared that it was the best student pitch competition they had seen on campus,” said Napier. “I think this stems from how in-depth the competitors went in crafting their concepts and pitches.”

Selihom Gobeze, ’22, won second place in the competition, and a team with Fekry Mostafa, ’25, and Mohamed Elhussiny, ’24 won third.