Johnson takes first in pitch competition

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Photo courtesy: Madalyn Johnson

Madalyn Johnson is all smiles about winning the business pitch competition.

Kat Ryan, Reporter

On March 3, Sierra Nevada University held its fifteenth Business Pitch Competition. There were 22 ideas pitched, and SNU senior Madalyn Johnson won first prize for her innovative and sustainable GPS-enabled ski tracking device called GP-SKI.
Johnson is 21 years old and originally from Michigan. She plans to graduate from SNU this spring. Her GP-SKI device was invented for skiers to be able to monitor their runs, their speed, and even prevent and reduce theft thanks to the device’s tracking technology.
This GPS-enabled microchip – the product has not been developed yet – will ideally be inserted into a ski or snowboard, and connected to the GP-SKI app on a mobile device where all of the ride data will be collected and stored. There will be no need to buy new gear with this device, as it will be easily inserted into any existing ski or snowboard. The Bluetooth connection between the device and the owner’s phone will make tracking and monitoring data convenient and easy.
Johnson’s inspiration for this business idea was learning from friends how common ski and snowboard theft is.
“I would like to completely eliminate this costly problem in the future,” she said. She was initially intimidated entering the pitch competition because it is unfamiliar territory for her; she has never entered one of her ideas into a business pitch competition before.
During her creative process, Johnson thought it might be more useful and clear for her to explain her idea through a short video rather than an oral presentation. This would also help her with the nerves around public speaking. Johnson says the most difficult aspect of the pitch competition was perfecting her video.
“I’m a perfectionist, so the process took a long time,” she said.
Along with the help of Mr. A in her Global Business Seminar class and his helpful steps to completing a Business Model Canvas, Johnson spent weeks perfecting her pitch to make sure her idea was conveyed clearly and effectively during the pitch.
Johnson says that sustainability was a top priority when creating this business idea.
“GP-SKI wants to make an invisible footprint on the earth,” she said.
Johnson wanted to create a product that the world needs, without creating more waste. The microchip will be made out of recycled materials and hopefully in a carbon-neutral factory setting.
Johnson feels very proud of herself for winning because she said there were a number of other really good ideas presented during the competition. From here, she is taking steps towards making her pitch become reality. A roadblock that she has recently faced is how much it will actually cost to produce a prototype and potentially the first product. Johnson is focusing on learning more about technology and what it really takes to create a microchip. Professor Jonathan Breiter has been a valuable resource for her during this time thanks to his in-depth business knowledge.
Johnson, and the other entries in the Pitch Competition this year, will all go head-to-head once again during the final business competition of the year: The President’s Cup Business Plan Competition, which will be held in April. Here, groups will have five minutes to present their business plans, as well as a short market analysis and financial summary, to two different panels of judges. The winners of this competition receive a total of $6,000 in cash to further their business endeavors.