Kewaunee, Wis., native Olivia Smidel, a junior at St. Norbert College, captured first place in the fourth annual Fox Connection Business Pitch Contest and was awarded $25,000 ($10,000 in cash and $15,000 in in-kind prizes).
“I am truly honored and grateful to have received first place at this event,” said Smidel. “Although I knew there was a chance I could win, I was in disbelief when they called my name. I honestly would have been happy to just receive recognition for my idea, but to also receive the cash and in-kind prizes is absolutely amazing.”
Her business idea, Eco-Cover, came from a simple conversation with her dad. It was then developed in Joy Pahl’s entrepreneurship class last fall. Pahl is an associate professor of business administration at St. Norbert College.
Smidel, a double-major in communication and media studies and integrative studies at St. Norbert, used her experience related to growing up on a dairy farm to identify a problem farmers have with safely and securely covering silage in a bunker silo.
“Thousands of pounds of plastic and hundreds of hours of labor are associated with the current method,” said Pahl. “Her business idea is to develop a biodegradable covering for these silos as a solution to this problem.”
Smidel hopes to develop her Eco-Cover business idea even more. “My plan is to use a natural and organic material that is also nutritionally beneficial to the animals,” said Smidel. “I am currently exploring a potential route through a sprayable soybean-base that is being used for insulating home.”
Pahl added: “Olivia learns quickly. She conducted the necessary research and put her excellent communication skills to use as she prepared and delivered her pitch.”
Students from six colleges in northeast Wisconsin (St. Norbert, UW-Green Bay, UW Oshkosh, Lawrence University, Fox Valley Tech and Moraine Park Tech) participated in the event, which was streamed live on YouTube: https://youtu.be/r__NyzVXrhY.
“The night will definitely be one I never forget,” added Smidel.
The Fox Connection, a consortium of colleges and universities in northeast Wisconsin, is dedicated to encouraging and enhancing entrepreneurship.
From St. Norbert College, October 16, 2020 by Mike Counter, [email protected], 920-362-8864