Last week, English Education major Isabelle Elsasser took second place at Plymouth State University’s annual Panther Pitch competition.
In the Panther Pitch, students propose a business or entrepreneurial idea that helps solve societal challenges on a local, national, or international level. PSU students of all disciplines and majors can participate in the event.
Elsasser earned second place for her nonprofit, social media awareness organization named InstaFame.
“The organization would go into high schools or other places such as the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club to teach teenagers about the impacts of social media. The organization would also teach them how to develop the social media presence they want to represent.”
Elsasser said that it was her desire to see something different in a business-focused competition that made her want to participate in the Panther Pitch. She noted that most people think of products you can “sell on the shelves” when they think about Shark Tank-types of marketing competitions. Elsasser wanted to challenge this in her pitch, so she created an organization rather than a product.
Elsasser’s experience as an English major played a large part in her success. While most of her competition was Business majors, Elsasser said that her experience as an English Education student helped her stand out.
“One thing I noticed was that many of the students had trouble with public speaking. In my English classes, we always have large group discussions and interact with each other. Because of that, I knew how to project my voice and be heard by the judges. I knew how to get my ideas across in a way that everyone understood them.”
It wasn’t just Elsasser’s communication skills that helped her win second place, however. InstaFame’s philanthropic service to the community made the organization stand out from product and profit-focused proposals.
“The majority wanted to sell a product. I was worried that because my idea was different, the judges wouldn’t like it. Thankfully, they saw the bigger picture. It’s not an idea that I would make money off of, but it’s something that would be valuable to young people using social media.”
Elsasser said that any English major interested in joining the competition shouldn’t hesitate to do so. Elsasser has some guidance from her Business major roommates, who sent her videos on how to complete a pitch. From there, however, it was her English major background that put her at the top of the competition.
“I used my knowledge from English classes to figure out what the judges really wanted to hear and how they wanted to hear it. English majors already have that skill down; they just need a good idea to go along with it.”
Elsasser said that she is going to use the $1,000 winnings to treat her family during the upcoming holiday season.