Tamia Washington wins elevator pitch competition

You have 90 seconds to stand in front of a panel of judges and pitch a business idea. What do you do?

If you’re Tamia Washington, you pitch Saucy Scents—a candle company selling therapeutic and calming fragrances—and you win the whole competition.

The elevator pitch competition happens every semester. Students have the chance to pitch either a business plan or themselves as if they are applying for a job. They have 90 seconds to make the pitch, which is about the amount of time an elevator ride takes.

Washington won $150 for placing first. Kiara Richard won $100 for second place and Asja Jordan won $50 for third.

Competitors’ business pitches covered a range of topics, including one from Kylee-ann Dickson for a robotic lawn tiller that would improve air quality because it wouldn’t require gasoline to run.

Washington’s pitch went beyond the requirements. She started by handing out gift bags to the judges with Saucy Scents candles inside. 

She told them her candles are the perfect solution to help people relax during the stressful pandemic.

“[The candles] help relieve stress and improve your mood,” Washington told the judges. “It’s stimulating your brain to help you focus.”

Washington said she decided to compete because she wants to improve her public speaking skills and  spread the word about her business idea.

Friday Ellis, the mayor of Monroe, who was one of the judges, owns a local cigar shop, Governors Cigar & Pipe, that opened in 2014. 

When he opened his cigar shop he knew that not many people in Monroe wanted it, but he had to believe in his shop and himself no matter what anyone else thought. 

“Have that confidence in yourself. Have that confidence in your product,” Ellis said. 

Washington said the most important thing she learned was to have faith in her product. 

“Nobody knows [your product] as good as you,” Washington said. “And once you have a plan and idea in your head, go forth with it and you can be successful.”

Cathi Hemed, the director of external initiatives, spoke about an elevator pitch competition next semester that will be different than usual.

“This is huge for Monroe, this is huge for West Monroe, this is huge for Northwest Louisiana,” Hemed said.

She said next spring will bring the first Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup competition. This will be an elevator pitch competition where students must compete in groups and present their business plans to a panel of business owners.

The first place winner will get $25,000, second place will get $15,000 and third place will get $10,000. Advisors who sponsor the teams can also win $3,000 if their team wins.

Applications for the Pelican Cup are due Jan. 18, 2022.