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Over $11K awarded at Scripps Innovation Challenge Pitch Day at OHIO

Sydney Otto | Mar 29, 2017

(L-R) Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth and members of the first-place team Trip Venturella, Kathrine Varge and Inna Tsyrlin, pose for a photo at the Scripps Innovation Challenge Pitch Day on Monday, March 27, 2017, at Walter Hall Rotunda. / Photo by Jorge Castillo Castro

Over $11K awarded at Scripps Innovation Challenge Pitch Day at OHIO

By Sydney Otto

ATHENS, Ohio (March 29, 2017)—On Monday, March 27, four teams gave their pitch to three judges for the fifth annual Scripps Innovation Challenge Pitch Day finale.

The Scripps Innovation Challenge, open to all students at Ohio University, is an opportunity for students to work collaboratively across programs to develop and pitch an innovative solution to one of the many real-world media and communication challenges presented by a professional organization.

Team Players, consisting of three students in the College of Fine Arts, won the first-place prize of $7,000 after pitching their idea, “Pledge Drive.” Their solution solved the issue that the National Resources Defense Council had initially proposed; the organization needed an innovative and effective way to increase donations. The team’s “Pledge Drive” would use social media to allow users to vote for cute animal videos, eventually culminating in a five-animal showdown in a live TV fundraising event where celebrities would represent each animal. During the event, people could choose which animal to donate money to. The animal who had raised the most money by the end of the event would become the NRDC’s next logo.

The team includes Inna Tsyrlin, Trip Venturella and Kathrine Varge, all three of whom are first-year graduate students studying playwriting in the College of Fine Arts.

“It feels great to have won the Scripps Innovation Challenge,” said Venturella. “We’re really happy that the judges liked our idea, it’s something that we’re passionate about. The other challengers brought really interesting ideas as well and it was a pleasure to see them.”

“It’s a bit surprising, maybe more than a bit, but it really feels good,” he explained. Venturella said he would be using some of his prize money to travel to California.

Kathrine Varge explained that she would be using her portion of the prize to help pay for her summer housing.

“I don’t know,” said Inna Tsyrlin, when asked what she planned on doing. “Maybe I’ll donate some of it to the NRDC.”

The Pitch Day finale resembled the popular “Shark Tank” show. Teams were given five minutes to pitch their ideas to three industry judges. This year’s judges included Terrie Temkin, BSC ‘71, founder of CoreStrategies for Nonprofits, Inc., Hebah Abdalla, BSJ ’92, an award-winning producer with more than 20 years of broadcasting experience, and Paul Mass, entrepreneur-in-residence in the Ohio University College of Business. Temkim and Abdalla are also members of the Scripps College of Communication Dean’s Advisory Council. After teams presented, judges had seven minutes to ask the teams questions about their idea.

The team who won the second-place prize of $2,500 was the Green Mappers. They also tackled the NRDC’s challenge and their solution included designing an interactive map where interested citizens could find projects that were being worked on in their area.

The two other teams, Team Bridging and Team Storytellers, both won honorable mention prizes of $1,000. Team Bridging also won the people’s choice award from online voters.

For more information, visit the Scripps Innovation Challenge website at The Scripps Innovation Challenge can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to view photos from the Scripps Innovation Challenge Pitch Day.

Click here to watch a short video about how each team prepared for Pitch Day.