WLU Students’ Ideas Capture Top Contest Prizes

Tyler Jones of Wheeling and Vishesh Maskey of Morgantown will split $5,000 in award money following a tie at the West Liberty University Center of Entrepreneurship’s Pitch Contest on Thursday at WLU’s new Intellectual Capitol at the First State Capitol Building.

Jones and Maskey were among seven budding entrepreneurs who pitched their business ideas to a gathering of school representatives and community members in hopes of winning seed money to help start their original businesses.

A surprise tie between Jones and Maskey resulted in each contestant receiving $2,500 each.

Jones’ business “Fajita by the Foot” was a vision for a new way of producing fajitas in a quick, efficient manner so the fajitas, “will be made as fast as they are sold” in a mechanical design created by Jones.

Maskey’s “Spatial Design Support System” involved using Geographic Information Systems to help solve varieties of problems for communities, businesses and more.

The first contest was held last spring. During the contest, individuals have five minutes to explain their idea before answering any questions from the audience, who vote for the most promising idea.

According to WLU professor Carrie White, anyone with a business idea was invited to compete.

“We wanted to provide students and community members the opportunity to get seed funding to open their businesses in town,” White said. “It encourages people to start businesses here, which we really want to see, and it allows us to provide resources and feedback from the community. It allows the community members to see what kind of businesses want to be here and for them to have a voice on the kind of businesses that get started here.”

The contest was held at the university’s new business incubator Intellectual Capitol, which opened in August.

WLU opened the incubator in a partnership with the Wheeling Academy of Law and Science and the WALS Foundation, founded by attorney Patrick Cassidy, along with his wife, educator Mary Ellen Cassidy, over a decade ago.

The Intellectual Capitol’s mission is to incubate graduates and mentor them with their business goals, ultimately launching WLU alumni into self-sustaining local businesses.

Sponsors for the Pitch Contest include West Liberty University’s Gary E. West College of Business and Center for Entrepreneurship, the Regional Economic Development Partnership and Vision Shared of Huntington.