By Brooklyn Brown
Avery Pittman, a first-year entrepreneurship and interior design major from Startown, recently won first place in the Western Carolina University College of Business Pitch Competition. Pittman also competed in the Southern Conference Pitch Competition at Mercer University.
Pittman wowed judges with an idea for 3D virtual dorm room tours for incoming freshmen.
“Before moving in, I tried to use a 3D room design app to input the measurements of my dorm and see the design of the room that way. However, when I attempted to do that, I realized the dimensions listed on the residential living website didn’t provide enough information for me to fully do that,” Pittman said.
“I brought too much stuff and had to cram it all in. I thought, ‘Why not make something where students can see a preset of the dorm they’ll be staying in?’ It could include a 3D model where they can add items to the room like a TV, couch, microwave, along with the bed and wardrobe that already comes with the room. Before they move in, they can see a 3D model and add items, customize it and get an idea of what they should bring.”
Pittman soon found out he was not alone in his frustrations. “I’ve talked to a lot of students who said they either completely over packed or brought the bare minimum and were calling their parents to bring them stuff,” he said.
Wendy Cagle, assistant professor in the College of Business, offered a pitch competition to her introductory entrepreneurship class and Pittman knew he needed to follow through on his idea.
Pittman credits Cagle and his project mentor professor Robert Lahm with providing him the necessary skills to create a successful pitch.
“Going into it, I really didn’t know anything,” Pittman said. “With the help of my mentors and the class, I was able to figure everything out and learn as I went. I learned a lot in my entrepreneurship class that I was able to immediately apply to my pitch idea. Rather than just listening to a lecture, I was able to apply what I was learning hands-on.”
In the WCU competition, Pittman competed against six other pitches in front of three judges. “Whenever they were announcing the winners for the Western competition, I just remember looking at my watch and realizing my heart rate was like 164. It was definitely nerve-racking,” he said.
At the SoCon competition, Pittman had to present in front of eight judges. Both pitch competitions have been a learning experience for Pittman.
“I’m not very far in either of my majors yet,” Pittman said. “I think this opportunity really helped me envision what I want to do in the future. I’ve always had an artistic eye ever since I was little. This whole process has confirmed for me that this is what I want to do and I’m on the right track.”
Pittman wants to continue working on bringing his pitch idea to life.
“I want to take the app that I won the competition with to the next stage. I’ve talked to the Residential Living team, professors in the College of Business, my mentors, interior design professors, and I’m trying to get the app developed with computer science students that may want to collaborate,” he said. “I’m excited about furthering this idea and then coming up with other ideas I can pitch in the future.”
Pittman urges other students to make use of the resources WCU offers in the College of Business. “If any students have an idea or a simple pitch for a business, even if they're not a business major, they can reach out to any of the professors in the College of Business and they would be willing to help,” he said. “That’s something that’s been inspiring to me, their willingness to help out students.”