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Blinn SBDC advisor serves as judge for prestigious elevator pitch competition

John Tatum, SBDC staff help local entrepreneurs develop powerful pitches

December 10, 2015

John TatumAs an advisor at the Blinn College Small Business Development Center (SBDC), John Tatum has helped to develop hundreds of business pitches. He recently put that expertise to use as a judge for Rice University’s Seventh Annual Elevator Pitch Competition.

Hosted by the Rice University Alliance and the Brown School of Engineering, the competition gives undergraduate Rice engineering students 90 seconds to pitch an engineering project as a solution to an everyday problem.

“First place went to a group of students who created a virtual reality public speaking training system,” Tatum said. “They won $1,500 toward the project.”

Helping clients develop stronger pitches is just one of Tatum’s roles at the SBDC, which provides free management consulting for existing businesses and start-ups, and can help with everything from developing a business plan to marketing to conducting research and finance options.

“The key is showing why people need your business and telling a story that illustrates how a customer is better off using your product,” Tatum said.

Tatum said when developing a business pitch, he looks first for the potential profitability of the idea, then helps develop its pitch strategy. Pitches should generally last between 60 and 90 seconds to be concise but memorable, Tatum said, and should include an introduction, description of the problem and solution, a quick story or example and a call to action.

The SBDC at Blinn College is a business consulting and training center that is part of the Texas Gulf Coast Small Business Development Center Network, which serves 32 counties in Southeast Texas. The center provides free one-on-one consulting and low-cost training seminars.

Last year, the three-person Blinn SBDC staff helped local business owners establish 27 new businesses and served 315 clients in Washington, Colorado and Austin counties. Over the past three years, the Blinn SBDC has helped its clients create 59 new businesses and 233 new jobs, and helped them acquire $14.73 million in new capital.

To discover how the Blinn SBDC can help your small business, call 979-830-4137 or visit