Senior Elizabeth Nash notices something when she shares her product idea for Crème de Liqueur, which she calls a “decadent line of alcohol-infused ice cream.”
“People’s eyes light up, because they’re just so excited about it,” said the writing, literature, and publishing major, in an interview after winning first place at Emerson’s ninth annual Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship, or E3, Conference.
At this year’s event, held April 19 in the Bill Bordy Theater, nine students of the year-long E3 program competed for three prizes, with cash awards and pro bono PR services up for grabs. Nash received a $5,000 check, and the second and third place winners, Sam Fishman and Nisreen Galloway, received $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.
“I wanted to tell a story. I wanted to make people hungry as they were listening to me,” said Nash. “I wanted to show that there was a serious business side to this, but in the end, we’re talking about a fantastic product that everybody can get behind.”
Before this year, the springtime E3 event was held as an exposition, where student-entrepreneurs would set up booths showcasing business cards, videos, interactive media, and other promotional materials, and gave five-minute pitches to audience members and judges.
Ja-Nae Duane, who took over E3 after its founder, Karl Baehr, died in November 2013, decided to make the expo into an all-day conference. Saturday’s event still featured student pitches, but added interviews with former E3 students and lectures from business owners outside the Emerson community.
“One of the things I was looking to do was bridge that [entrepreneurial] gap with other universities, and bringing in and working with local entrepreneurs,” said Duane. “[It’s about] giving the students the idea that they are not alone, that there are other entrepreneurs surrounding them everywhere, and that this is a very vibrant, economically sound town.”
Senior marketing communications major Jon Allen, who won last year’s E3 Expo for his organic cherry soda drink Temple Twist, saw the new format as a positive change.
“The fact that they brought in past winners to hear their stories and see their journeys and how they’ve progressed as entrepreneurs is really cool,” said Allen. “It’s a great way to make the program fresh, and to make the competition more interesting for people to come and experience it.”
Duane said the three-person judging process was divided into three parts, including one-on-one interviews and business plan submissions before the day’s pitch presentations. The judges described Nash as a candidate they were confident would devote her life to the success of her company, a value Nash identified with.
“I’m a food writer here at Emerson,” Nash said. “I want to make food a part of my life, and when I graduate from Emerson, I can’t wait to start down the ice cream path.”
Fishman, a senior marketing communications major, came in second place, receiving $3,000 for Stede Threads, his line of skateboarding hats featuring wooden three-dimensional labels, made using recycled wood skate decks.
Galloway, a senior writing, literature, and publishing major, came in third place for Simmer, an online magazine for college foodies. According to Duane, all three winners will receive pro-bono consultations from Leary & Company, a full-service public relations firm, and New Leaf Legal, a law firm catering to entrepreneurs.
Still beaming from the judges’ announcement, Nash said she was elated to have won, excited to continue working on Crème de Liqueur, and lucky to have competed against the other E3 students.
“I’m proud of myself for all the hard work I’ve put in, I’m so proud of the third and second place winners, I know that they deserve it fully. … Every pitch was amazing,” she said. “I think this is the best group of pitches, honestly. I’m so proud of everybody and this day was just phenomenal.”