Luther senior Mutenge announced winner of Erdman 'Pitch Off'

Luther College senior Joram Mutenge was announced the winner of the Erdman Prize for Entrepreneurship after "Pitch Off" competition Friday, May 10, in Marty's, located in Luther's Dahl Centennial Union.

Mutenge studies philosophy and business management at Luther. He decided to start his business, called Teyapool, after taking an entrepreneurship course taught by Tim Schweizer, Luther professor of management. Mutenge learned about the concept of the minimum viable product (MVP), which is the idea that you don't need to have all the resources ready to start your business. His interest in business has grown since.

Teyapool, which translates to Play Pool, is a pool table company based in Mutenge's home country of Zambia. Teyapool places pool tables in bars and charges a fee for every game played. A percentage of the revenue is shared with the bar owner, who carries out the transactions on Teyapool's behalf. Mutenge's goal is to develop the company into a chain of pool tables that spreads across Zambia. Mutenge's business pitch helped him win the first place prize of $6,000.

Mutenge said he was nervous to pitch his business, but was interested to find that the competition was about more than persuading the judges. "I was surprised to have received very rich advice from them. They gave me a new perspective of looking at my business which was totally blind to me before my pitch." He also said, "I was scared as I walked up to the stage, but as soon as I uttered the first word, all the fear melted. From that moment, it was fun all the way!"

The two other finalists and runners-up were Luther first-year Katla Michaelson, and Luther senior Mimi Finger. Michaelson’s pitch was for Michaelson Morgans, a horse camp for children, and Finger's pitch was for Mimi’s Private Swim Lessons, which offers private swimming lessons to children of all abilities. Both Michaelson and Finger received a $3,000 prize.    

The Daryl and Audrey Erdman Prize for Entrepreneurship is endowed by gifts from Daryl A. and Audrey P. Erdman, Luther class of 1961. Through their generosity, the Erdman's provide $12,000 in awards to three student entrepreneurs every year.

To be selected for an Erdman Prize, the Luther students who create, develop and manage a successful entrepreneurial enterprise during their years at Luther must apply for the prize and present their venture to a panel of judges. The judging panel is composed of entrepreneurs from both the Decorah community and other cities. The Erdman Prize is open to all full-time Luther students from all majors.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,005, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.

Erdman Prize Winners (Left to Right): Katla Michaelson '22, Joram Mutenge '19, Mimi Finger '19