COVID-19 Resources ▸▸

Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


Good Ideas Compete for Funding at WLU Entrepreneur Pitch Contest

West Liberty logoWest Liberty University’s sixth Entrepreneurs Pitch Contest will be held from 6 – 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7 at the future Children’s Museum, located in the Centre Market neighborhood at 2112 Market Street, Wheeling.

“We have a great keynote speaker Jesse Lear, a young entrepreneur from Columbus, Ohio, who will share his success story at 6 p.m. and then we begin the start-up pitches at 6:45. We are grateful for our sponsors input and assistance in making this another fine example of business to business outreach,” said Dr. Carrie White, director of WLU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and associate professor of business at its Gary E. West College of Business.

Sponsors include the Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley, TechConnect, RED Partners, Vision Shared and the Gary E. West College of Business.

Local entrepreneurs and small business owners are encouraged to submit their ideas by Oct. 1 to get in on the pitching action. The contest offers a $2,500 award to the winning business presentation.

“Applications are coming in and we expect another great night of new business ideas, networking and learning. Probably the best thing about pitch contests is the learning and validation that entrepreneurs receive from other professionals,” explained White.

“The pitch contest is an enjoyable way to network, pitch new ideas and potentially receive funding based on audience participation. Our pitch contests have fueled seven businesses locally now and we are pleased to continue this effort,” she said.

Judges for the competition include:

  • Executive Director Anne Barth, who leads West Virginia’s technology based economic development entity, TechConnect;
  • President Cory Dennison of Vision Shared, West Virginia community and economic development organization;
  • Columbus businessman Jesse Lear, owner of VIP Waste Services, serving Central Ohio.
  • WLU Alumnus Vincent Leusner, partner and vice president with Keiretsu Forum financial management company, Pittsburgh.

Some of the successful businesses that have come out of previous WLU pitch contests include Vishesh Maskey with Spatial Decision Support System; Mason Dixon BBQ Co., founded by WLU alumni Patrick Fisher; Happy Goat Yoga, owned by WLU alumna Lindsay Schooler; and Mmm … Popcorn, owned by Wheeling resident Dave McFarland.

“Past participants are grateful for the experience of participating in our pitch contests. They tell me how much they learned and benefitted from the feedback from the audience. It’s invaluable, whether you win or not,” she said.

The Pitch Contest is open to the public both as participants and audience members. The audience enjoys the chance to learn about what is in the works locally with new business ideas and plays a part when voting for the best ideas presented at the end of the hour-long presentation session. Each pitcher gets five minutes to present, questions are entertained, then both the audience and the judges vote on the ideas. Finally, the prize-winning pitch is announced.

The Center for Entrepreneurship is a division of the Gary E. West College of Business and offers catalyst for innovation and job creation in West Virginia and the region. The pitch contest is just one of the new business programs that it fuels annually. Others include: a business incubator housed in WLU’s Main Hall and an entrepreneurship minor for WLU students.

Entrepreneurs seeking more information should contact White at 304-336-8159 or at For complete information on the Gary E. West College of Business, visit