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Purdue Northwest boosts prize money for Big Sell entrepreneurial contest

Big Sell audience members vote on entrepreneur presentations at The Big Sell in April at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville in 2016.

Purdue University Northwest is sweetening the pot for its annual entrepreneurial pitch competition, The PNW Big Sell, boosting prize money by 50 percent this year.

Entrepreneurs can make two-minute pitches in the contest, which will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. April 28 at the James B. Dworkin Student Services and Activities Complex on the Westville campus. The event has helped launch companies like Girlease, which went on to sell bra liners on QVC, and the Centipede Sawhorse, which is now sold at Lowe's, Amazon and Home Depot.

"We are so happy to continue supporting and building the innovation community of PNW,” College of Business Dean Jane Mutchler said.

Entrepreneurs submit a two-minute video touting their business idea, and the top 12 get to make their pitch before a live audience and panel of expert judges. 

Cimcor founder Robert Johnson III, APLnextEd founder Kathy Gibson and Turbo Appeal founder John Guidos will judge the live pitches. The winner will get $7,500, second place $3,500 and third place $2,000.

“We’re honored to have NIPSCO to help us increase our prize packages for this exciting pitch competition and are looking forward to seeing the submissions and business ideas,” judge and organizer Hunter Hardesty said.

Purdue Northwest took over management of the event, which professor and entrepreneur Dushan Nikolovski started at Star Plaza in 2011, when it was held at the Hammond campus last year.

“It is a great showcase for the technologies emerging from the PNW community," College of Technology Dean Niaz Latif said.

To enter, submit a two-minute video at pnw.edu/thepnwbigsell by April 1.

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Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.