By Fatima Magana '22
ALLIANCE, OH- The University of Mount Union hosted its semi-annual Raider Tank competition with the fall 2022 edition featuring four Mount Union alumni who competed in Raider Tank returning as judges.
According to Michael Kachilla, director of entrepreneurship and leadership studies and management professor, Raider Tank has been hosted by Mount Union for 11 years now. In addition to the competition hosted in the fall semester, students also have an opportunity to participate in the spring semester. Kachilla added that the winners receive a monetary prize of $600 for first place, $400 for second, and $200 for third place.
Andrew Rothermel ‘15, Jordan Martin ‘19, and Matt Honaker ‘20, each with different professional paths were excited to return to Raider Tank as judges alongside Quinn Whitehead '17.
“[As a student] I took a class and we had to come up with a business idea and build out a canvas/model for it,” said Rothermel. “My business pitch was one that my grandfather helped me develop.”
Rothermel, a management and finance graduate and entrepreneurship minor explained that as a student competitor, he loved the idea of competing against other students and being able to talk about his project.
“I remember that the hardest part of the competition was converting hundreds of hours of work into a two-minute presentation,” said Rothermel. “Though I loved interacting with my classmates about their projects and afterwards with the judges.”
Now a vice president and team leader for Huntington Bank’s downtown Akron private office, Rothermel was thrilled to come back to his alma mater and participate as a Raider Tank judge to experience the competition from the other side.
Martin, a marketing and business management graduate and entrepreneurship minor participated in Raider Tank seven times in of group and individual projects.
“I loved the competition and the feedback I got from the judges each time,” said Martin. “It was a good experience practicing in front of real business professionals.”
Martin explained that Dr. Kachilla reached out to her asking if she would be interested in being a judge at the 2022 Raider Tank competition; without hesitation, Martin accepted.
“When my favorite Mount Union professor called me, I could not turn him down," said Martin, who works at Laketran, a public transportation company taking care of communications and events. She stated that she enjoyed being part of Raider Tank sitting at the judges’ table and hearing every student’s pitches.
Honaker, a mechanical engineering graduate and entrepreneurship minor also participated in Raider Tank multiple times individually and part of groups.
“Two of my favorite products were a 4-in-1 bowl that was a plate, bowl, funnel and strainer, and a Noise box that allowed an individual to record a song with the capabilities of a sound room without access to one,” said Honaker.
As a student engineer, Honaker was fascinated by the idea of turning a simple idea into a product that could solve anyone's problems and convincing others that his idea was worth the time he spent on it. Now as a product engineer for Myers Industries in Alliance, he makes custom rotomolded parts for many customers.
“I enjoyed seeing how the program has grown and getting to hear about some amazing ideas from students,” Honaker said. “I reminisced on being a former student and participant of the pitch competitions, too.”
This year’s winners were Madison Luthy ‘23, biomedical engineering major, Madison Schmid ‘23, accounting major and business administration minor, and Samantha “Sammy” Kaminsky ‘24, sport business major and business administration and entrepreneurship double minor.
Schmid explained that she entered the competition upon beginning Kachilla’s entrepreneurship introductory course this fall where each student worked on their respective projects for 10 weeks.
“For my Raider Tank project, I decided to focus on creating a dog toy that is centered around providing enrichment for dogs at a price that is a value for a longer period of time than products currently on the market,” said Schmid. “[I was inspired because] I adopted my dog from a shelter back in August and she has a lot of anxiety and fear around new people.”
Schmid added that without Kachilla’s encouragement, positivity and guidance, she would not have been able to believe in herself and carry out the project.
“This competition enabled me to exercise my creative side as I was able to combine my love for my dog with creativity and show people how much it means to me,” said Schmid.
Winning $400 dollars in second place, Schmid would like to invest her prize money to build a prototype of her dog toy and be able to test the product with customers.
Kaminsky, winning $200 dollars in third place, developed a parka boot which combines a swim parka, winter boots and sneakers. In addition, Kaminsky was most excited about sharing her ideas with other people and gaining valuable feedback.
“My product is supposed to solve the problem of swimmers having cold feet,” said Kaminsky. “The product dries fast, is easy to slip on and off, and can attach to the outside of a swim bag, it can also be open to other water sport markets.”
Kaminsky looks forward to investing her prize money in stocks or building a prototype of her product later in the future.