(Posted November 27, 2006)

Fifteen Juniata students were selected to travel to Chicago, IL to attend the Collegiate Entrepreneurs\' Organization (CEO) conference this November. Approximately 1,200 students from over 20 states attended this national meeting to hear successful entrepreneurs share their stories and learn from each other through breakout sessions and networking events. A highlight of the conference was an elevator pitch competition, where students presented a 90-second synopsis of their business idea to a panel of judges comprised of investors and entrepreneurs. Of the 50 students selected to participate in the elevator pitch semi-finals, twelve were from Juniata. Sarah Worley, instructor in communication, who helped to prepare the students from a public speaking perspective, also accompanied the students on the trip. \"There is no more valuable experience for a student than to have this kind of hands-on learning opportunity,\" she says. When 12 finalists were selected to present their pitch in the main conference hall in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 people, three Juniata students advanced: Cassandra Hale, a freshmen from Altoona, Pa. studying entrepreneurship; Sarah Roby, a sophomore from Lewisberry, Pa. studying marketing; and Travis Paul, a junior from Galeton, Pa. studying entrepreneurship. Interestingly, the only two women chosen from the preliminary round to go on to the finals were from Juniata. Roby, who finished 5th overall, and was awarded $500, pitched a digital greetings business idea, speaking about both the creative and the technical sides of the venture. \"It was truly an honor to represent Juniata in front of such a large and highly-esteemed audience,\" she says. \"The caliber of the attendees and speakers was very impressive and to know that our group of students fit in confidently was a great feeling. Presenting my business idea was exciting and the feedback I received was quite encouraging.\" Paul presented one of his multiple ventures, Rock to Roll, a directory of quarries and stone products for the construction industry. \"The CEO trip was one of the most amazing and motivating experiences of my life.\" Paul says, \"With over 1,000 people at the conference with the entrepreneurial spirit, each person there was willing to help and network with every person there. I have numerous contacts that I\'ve kept in touch with and also use as part of my network.\" Hale pitched a modern twist to the tanning industry. The freshman pitched her plan to incorporate international themed elements and hot tubs into this existing service. \"Providing opportunities like this for Juniata students as early as the first semester their freshmen year is what Juniata is all about\" describes Dr. Michael Lehman, assistant vice president of the Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (JCEL), who also accompanied the group to Chicago. In addition to the elevator pitch, students heard firsthand from experienced entrepreneurs. The 60 speakers this year included Helen Greiner (Founder of iRobot), Patrick Byrne (President of Overstock.com) and Denis Weil (VP for Innovation at McDonalds). Breakout session topics included \"The One Page Business Plan\" and \"Financing a Start-Up.\" The students who attended returned to campus with energy and enthusiasm. They formed a new entrepreneurial club. They began working with the Enrollment Office to introduce prospective students to the entrepreneurial opportunities at Juniata. And they began to implement their business ideas as real-life ventures. For more information about entrepreneurship at Juniata, please visit www.jcel.biz.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.