Harvard Business School “trendster” app Wins Wake Forest Retail Innovation Challenge

11.18.2012 News Release

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – A mobile application for retail sales associates earned the Grand Prize in Wake Forest University Schools of Business Retail Innovation Challenge on Nov. 17. Kat Yeh and Angela Wise of Harvard Business School took home $30,000 for their idea.

Wake Forest MBA students Walt Elder, and Kanu Mitra placed second with their eCash proposal to open the world of e-commerce to people who use cash, winning a $5,000 prize.

Clarkson University students Steve Akiki, Chris Behrens, Sean Cheung, Dietrich Diehl and Andrew Wegner finished third and received $2,000 for their Innovative Delivery Systems application that enables spectators at entertainment venues to order concessions and have them delivered to their seat or available for pick up at the closest concession stand.

The $1,000 Fan Favorite Award sponsored by Wake Forest alumnus Erich Kahner (MBA '08) went to Babson College for receiving the most votes on elevatorcompetitionlive.com.

A total of 16 student teams from top universities around the country converged in downtown Winston-Salem to make their elevator pitches for ideas that could revolutionize retail. The awards were announced during a ceremony in the Piedmont Room at Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, PLLC located in downtown Winston-Salem.

For 13 years, Wake Forest hosted The Elevator Competition, allowing students to test their skills at making the perfect elevator pitch to industry executives and venture capitalists. This year, Wake Forest's Center for Retail Innovation came forward to challenge students to come up with ideas that could help the retail community create, deliver and capture value.

Teams delivered two-minute pitches while literally riding in an elevator at the BB&T Financial Center in downtown Winston-Salem. The best five retail innovation ideas advanced to the Board Room for a formal 20-minute presentation.

Sponsors included: The Angell Center for Entrepreneurship, The Center for Retail Innovation, PepsiCo, Inmar, Truiliant, The Fresh Market, Chick-fil-A and Erich Kahner (MBA '08).

The event was organized and produced by student volunteers led by co-chairs Cooper Warren (MBA '13), Guy Groff (MBA '13) and Jordan Wesley (MBA '13). The faculty advisor is Elevator Competition co-founder Stan Mandel, Professor of Practice at Wake Forest University Schools of Business and Director of the Angell Center for Entrepreneurship.

The Elevator Competition Retail Innovation Challenge was part of the Retail Futures Conference presented by Inmar and the Center for Retail Innovation. John Ross, Executive Vice President of Inmar, and Britt Beemer, Chairman of America's Research Group, Ltd. (ARG), conducted a fireside chat about the future of retail; and John Phillips, Senior Vice President of Customer Supply Chain and Logistics at PepsiCo, presented the Retail 2020 keynote address, giving attendees a look at future megatrends in retail technology and consumer behavior.

Videos, blogs and a photo gallery of the event may be found on elevatorcompetitionlive.com.