MEng student places first at pitch competition

Cassie Davis, a master’s of engineering in biomedical innovation student in the McKelvey School of Engineering, placed first at Saint Louis University’s annual Pitch and Catch competition. The entrepreneurial contest invites college students to pitch ideas to investors from the pitcher’s mound at Busch Stadium.

Cassie Davis. Submitted image

Davis won $5,000 for her team to support their product In-Lumino, a surgical lighting device to provide increased visibility for challenging operating conditions.

Davis shared her experience at the competition and advice for students looking to make their own pitch.

How did you get involved with the Pitch and Catch competition?

I participated in SLU’s Real Elevator Pitch Competition last semester, and directors of that event recommended the Pitch and Catch event to me. It caught my attention because I’m a huge baseball fan. I played softball most of my life, so it seemed like a fitting competition to enter.

How did you prepare for the event?

Competition preparation happened in two parts. There was the application process, which involved pitching our idea using a pitch deck template they provided and recording a video of the pitch. From there, the judges chose 10 finalists. This part of the process was good practice for the main event because I rehearsed my pitch several times over the course of recording the video.

Once I was notified of being selected, I updated the pitch deck with new information, such as the confirmation of our provisional patent, and then focused on rehearsing the speaking portion of the presentation. During the week leading up to the presentation, the MEng faculty took time out of class to let me rehearse. This was incredibly helpful. I feel so lucky to be in this program and for the faculty support I received.

How did you feel standing on the mound of Busch Stadium and speaking to a crowd of investors?

As much as I would like to say I was 100% confident, I was incredibly nervous. I was the first presenter, but it was better for my nerves in the long run. I tried to remind myself of how many times I have been on a softball field and had the expectation to perform well.

It was also super helpful having the support of the MEng faculty, mentors and friends who came to watch. I am so grateful I had them in the audience so I could see friendly smiles. The judges also all seemed friendly and engaged.

What did you learn at this event that you'll take with you to your next competition?

I learned a lot from watching the other presenters. I was able to see different presentation styles and what caught the audience’s attention.

The biggest takeaway was the better you connect and illustrate the problem to the audience, the more interest you’ll get. This is something our team has worked hard to do and is something we will continue to refine moving forward. Our team’s success at this event will give us confidence in our upcoming events and ease our nerves a bit more.

What advice do you have for other students getting involved in these types of pitch competitions?

I would strongly recommend other students try these types of events. They're great opportunities to learn and present in a non-classroom setting where grades aren’t on the line.

My biggest piece of advice deals with the preparation: Be able to show you know your material and are passionate about what you’re presenting. This can range from something as simple as having business cards and logos to doing your research on the audience members.