First-year student Sophie Russell has an idea that could be worth $25,000. Fortunately, she also has a great team behind her.

Russell, an economics and Spanish double major from Oakwood, Ohio, is getting expert advice on her concept through the Red Frame Lab, Denison’s entrepreneurial and design-thinking hub. Coach and associate director Rick Coplin taps into his background in a business incubator to provide tips and advice on how to bring an idea from conception to completion.

Coplin encourages entrepreneurs to take advantage of pitch competitions to understand how ideas land with potential users. It’s a great way to get feedback and adjust to real-world concerns.

Russell is about to embark on a journey to Northampton, Mass., home of Smith College and the Smith College Draper Competition, an annual competition exclusively for female entrepreneurs. She was one of only 60 to win a place in the competition through a 90-second pitch for her idea, “Kid Kaddy,” a sort of Uber for kids with busy families. Coplin, Russell, and her business partner, Cole Tatro, will travel to Smith in mid-April.

Coplin is giving Russell practical resources as part of her preparation. “Two of our Silicon Valley alumnae, Maddie Calendar and Maria Hess, have agreed to run her through the wringer practicing her pitch and more importantly, having her answer tough questions from real investors. By the time Sophie gets to the Smith stage, she will be prepared for anything,” says Coplin.

Smith’s top prize is $25K with several $5K prizes.

March 28, 2023