Photos courtesy of William & Mary Raymond A. Mason School of Business
Ferguson Ventures, part of Ferguson Enterprises, partnered with William & Mary to host the first-ever Innovation Challenge Pitch Day on April 19 at the Ferguson Heritage Center in Newport News. Five teams of William & Mary students pitched their ideas and approaches to address productivity in the construction industry as they face a staggering trades shortage. Currently 600,000 skilled trade jobs are open in the U.S. and 83 percent of companies report a lack of qualified talent.
During the Innovation Challenge, each team had six minutes to present their idea to a panel of judges, followed by a seven-minute Q&A session. Students competed for a chance to take home a first-place prize of $3,500, a second-place prize of $1,500 or summer internships at Ferguson for top students participating in the challenge to progress their ideas in the Ferguson Innovation Lab.
Judges scored the teams based on the quality of their concept; the potential impact on the construction and services industry; commercial potential for Ferguson; credibility and quality of presentation and supporting data; and suitability to bring the idea into the Ferguson Innovation Lab to progress further. Judges included: Kevin Murphy, Ferguson Chief Executive Officer; Mike Brooks, Ferguson Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer; Sam Rose, Ferguson Vice President of Showroom and Builder Business; Stacy Hackworth, Ferguson Director of Regional Operations, CMRO; Bruce Jacobson, Telecom Entrepreneur; and Warren Buck, William and Mary Board of Visitors Member.
Contestants included: ConTech, mentored by Stephanie Ziegler, Senior Portfolio and Partnership Development Manager, and focused on investment identification and portfolio acceleration in Ferguson Ventures; Build It, mentored by Edward Griffin, Applications Architect IV, and focused on Associate Productivity and O365 initiatives, enabling associates to securely access internal and cloud resources; Mario, mentored by Robbie Bell, Senior Marketing Research Manager, and focused on gathering and analyzing customer data to drive improvements in customer experience; TBT, mentored by Jediah Logiodice, Technology Architect IV, and focused on the execution of the information Assurance program; and MJR, mentored by Billy Stutz, Senior Marketing Manager, and focused on driving value to Res Trade & Commercial customers through marketing.
During the event, many of the students were able to talk to Ferguson associates about Ferguson as a career choice, as well as figures from the startup community, such as StartWheel Executive Director Christopher Shelton and 757 Accelerate Evans McMillion.
After careful deliberation from the panel of judges, ConTech was named the first-place team, TBT was named the second-place team and Stephanie Ziegler was announced as the winning Mentor.