Beloiters take third place in national entrepreneur competition

Entrepreneurs Jalen Ponder’24 and Lane Wilson’26 shine at e-Fest event.

Jalen Ponder'24 shares ideas with e-Fest patron and Best Buy founder, Dick Schulze. Jalen Ponder’24 shares ideas with e-Fest patron and Best Buy founder, Dick Schulze.Performing better than the likes of Dartmouth, Princeton, and UPenn, Beloit College took third place in the 7th annual e-Fest Pitch Slam, a national startup competition held at St. Thomas University in May in Minneapolis.

“A Beloiter” was one of 25 teams in the U.S. competing for over $200,000 in cash prizes. e-Fest® is the premier national business competition for any undergraduate student with an unrelenting entrepreneurial spirit and a motivation to create positive change in the world.

Jalen Ponder’24 excited judges with the Evendtor business he started when he was 13 years old and living in Detroit. To help support himself, Jalen asked a food truck owner if he could get a job running the business’s Facebook page and posting images. Soon he was scheduling the food truck.

“I started booking the food truck at different places in Detroit, and that got me into the event booking market,” Jalen says.

Lane Wilson’26, from Brooklyn, New York, was also part of the Beloit e-Fest team. Lane’s experience in sales is helping Evendtor reach more customers.

Now that Evendtor has its marketing and systems in place, it’s time for Jalen to onboard more employees to the business. Jalen shared ideas with e-Fest judge and Best Buy founder Dick Schulze and talked with other eFest patrons.

Lane was a solid thought partner, helping to frame Evendtor’s relationship with food truck owners as “partners” and the end users as customers, even though the business receives revenue from both parties.

“This small but important distinction helps drive the type of activities and tactics used to be successful,” says Beloit College professor and advisor Brian Morello’85.

The two Beloiters were excited about attending presentations from prominent business leaders, and professional development workshops, and listening to Schulze’s keynote speech.

“I showed up because I really believe I will learn something, not just from the competition, but everyone else, too,” Jalen says.

Out of a pool of over 160 schools, Beloit was selected to be one of 25 finalists to go to the event. Morello says it was a meaningful opportunity for aspiring Beloit entrepreneurs.

“With competitors from large research universities and Ivy League schools, our first time at e-Fest was a leveling experience for the students,” Morello says. “Seeing other high-performing students who have created medical devices and other products was inspiring. At the same time by competing and winning in their own right, our students are emboldened to return to Beloit with a growth mindset and determination to keep working hard.”

Find more about the e-Fest event.

May 03, 2023

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