Skip to content
open navigation


Two Students Attend National Pitch Competition; One Wins 2nd-place Cash Prize!

Student with faculty for pitch eventTwo Southern Vermont College (SVC) Business and Sustainable Ventures students, Ally McNamee and Nikolas Joseph, received an invitation as finalists to the St. Louis University’s (SLU) sixth annual “Real Elevator Pitch” competition.

Since the inception of the Sustainable Ventures Program within The McCormick Division of Business in 2015, Associate Professor Jeb Gorham and Division Chair Stacey Hills have mentored entrepreneurial-minded students as they develop business models and pitches to market their concepts to investors and customers.

The Program’s success features: 2015 non-profit finalist at Davidson College’s The Next Play; 2016 top 50 finalist at The Big Sell at Purdue University Calumet; 2016 top 12 finalist at ABQid’s Ski Lift Pitch in Taos, NM; 2016 top 3 finish at 1Berkshire Food Farming and Agriculture Pitch; 2017 top 12 finalist at The Big Sell at Purdue University Northwest; and 2017 top 3 finish at ABQid’s Ski Lift Pitch in Taos, NM.

McNamee is a junior and new addition to her project’s team. She said, “When I first got asked to work on the project, I never thought we would be where we are today. Without the help of Jeb and Stacey, I would never have the confidence in my ability to pitch to potential investors and business executives. It is an amazing opportunity, and I cannot wait to represent SVC again in another major competition.”

The most recent invitation extended to McNamee and Joseph placed them both in the top nine finalists for SLU’s for-profit track with their projects. To make the finals, both students had to perfect a 30-second video pitch to compete with students from across the country. McNamee is working with a team of SVC faculty and alumni to prototype and product test a down alternative fill for sports apparel and home goods. Joseph revived a project that had been put on the shelf and is bringing new energy to a hop-growing model that can help with hop shortages in seasonally-limited growing regions.

On December 3, McNamee and Joseph entered the final round of competition at One Metropolitan Square in St. Louis, MO. The final round logistics had each finalist pitching to more than 25 investors or business executives on 9 different elevator rides. One bank of elevators goes from Floor 1 to Floor 16 while a second bank goes from Floor 1 to Floor 26. A third bank goes from Floor 1 to Floor 40. All of the rides last between 40 to 45 seconds in total. Pitches begin when students step into the elevator. Pitches end when the elevator door opens at the top. The goal is to collect as many business cards as possible from the investors. The top three pitches received cash prizes, but every finalist gained national exposure for their ideas and an entire list of investors as contacts.

NEWS UPDATE: Ally McNamee won 2nd-place cash prize of $1,500 at the competition!

To learn more about SVC’s Sustainable Ventures Program, contact Dr. Gorham at or call 802-447-6382.

Back to top