Institute for Entrepreneurship

Meet Abby McCutchen, winner of the Fall 2014 Elevator Pitch Competition (Business Idea)

February 2, 2015

Abby McCutchen, a junior at John Cabot University, majoring in International Business with a minor in Entrepreneurship, was the winner for the Business Idea category in the Fall 2014 JCU Elevator Pitch Competition. Dallas, Texas born and bred, Abby McCutchenshe chose JCU because she wanted to study in a truly international environment. While still undecided about her future plans, she would like to open a US import business, specializing in pottery from different regions of Italy.


1. What was your pitch about?

I entered the Elevator Pitch Competition last semester for Prof. Pulino's class, Introduction to Entrepreneurship, and I presented my group's business idea. The product consisted in a small stand that provided a tea and espresso makers for medium-sized hair salons. While living in Rome a friend and I realized that if customers want a coffee, they usually ask one of the workers to personally go to a coffee shop and pick it up. We believe this system is very time consuming and inefficient. Therefore, we invented "Caffé per te", convenient, simple and easy to maintain.

2. Do you think that preparing the pitch help you define the business idea better?

Definitely! The pitch was very close to the end of the semester and therefore throughout the class we had to both prepare the project and practice our elevator pitch. Because it is so short, only one minute without visual aids, the pitch really helped me identify the core values of my business idea. I believe that it helped me not only define the product, but also our target market. In fact, in the beginning the idea was completely different. At first, Caffé per Te was supposed to be sold to barbershops.

3. How did you feel when you learnt that you had to participate in the competition?

I was nervous because I had never done anything similar before. My first thought was, how will I fit all of this information in only one minute? To be honest, I do not mind public speaking, but I usually explain concepts in great detail. It took me three days to summarize all in the given time!

4. And now?

Well, when I found out that I had won I was shocked. I really did not expect to do that well, at the end I felt extremely proud of myself and my hard work.

5. Do you think learning how to pitch an idea will help you in the future?

Yes, I do. I believe that if you can learn to synthesize your ideas and define what you are trying to convey, then you will be able to truly catch people's attention. I think is important especially if you are trying to open a business and you need to talk to your investors, you need to be able to get your point across in an effective and efficient way.

6. What advice could you give to this semester's participants?

Don't wait until the last minute! I believe that the key in presenting a very good pitch is practice, especially in front of your friends. In fact, last semester we organized mini practice sessions at night which I believe helped all of us a lot.