Second-round PioBiz winners develop a concept for eco-friendly product

Round 2 PioBiz students

Marietta College’s Cameron Dowiak ’19 (Burgettstown, Pennsylvania) and Audrey Albright ’21 (Moraine, Ohio) recently teamed up to win the “Proof of Concept” round of the PioBiz competition with their project EcoX.

As the top-place team, Dowiak, who is majoring in Biochemistry, and Albright, who is majoring in Marketing and Environmental Studies), received $230.

“I honestly didn’t think our product would be so popular,” Dowiak said. “I just didn't want to graduate with any regrets or ‘would’ves,’ ‘should’ves,’ ‘could’ves.’ I wanted to do everything Marietta had to offer before I (graduate) in May.”

PioBiz is a business start-up competition with a final award of $10,000. The competition is open to all Marietta College students and their partners. Throughout the 2018-19 academic year, students compete in three rounds of competition.

In Round 2 of the competition, students used up to five slides and took up to five minutes to prove that their business ideas were feasible. Following their presentation, each team of competitors was given five minutes to respond to questions posed by a panel of three judges — Sarah Arnold (Marketing & Community Relations Manager for the Washington County Public Library System and the Owner and Founder of Clutch MOV), Mike Burdette (Marketing and Promotions Consultant with Proforma) and Dr. Carrie White (Assistant Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at West Virginia University).

Upon the conclusion of the last presentation, each member of the audience voted for their favorite business ideas. Each of the three judges also assigned a 0-10 score to each idea.

Dowiak said EcoX is an alternative to the top 10 single-use plastics that end up in landfills or oceans.

“Our current societal consumption of resources is unsustainable if everyone on Earth were to live the way we as Americans do,” he said. “This product, hopefully, will make it more convenient for people to cut back on their waste. Reusable/biodegradable bags, food wraps, toothbrushes, shampoo bar, utensils and straws are packaged into a bamboo composite bento box. Our product is plastic free and is targeted to those who are transiting to a more sustainable or zero-waste lifestyle.”

Rounding out the top five from the “Proof of Concept” round are:

Michael Undersander ’19 (Alexandria, Virginia), a Geology major, and Rebekah Finn ’19 (Cincinnati, Ohio), a Biochemistry major with “Providing Pawsable,” $210.

Michael Tomasch ’22 (Marietta, Ohio), a Marketing major, with “ItsReady,” $190.

Yuhang Liu ’20 (Beijing, China) and Tiantian Zhang ’20 (Beijing, China) with “iTown,” $170. Liu and Zhang are exchange students from the University of International Relations in Beijing, China.

Tianhui Cao ’19 (Shanghai, China), who is majoring in both Marketing and Economics, with “Juice Meets Tea,” $150.

“I would say the greatest thing about PIoBiz isn’t even the winning, but being exposed to all of the resources Marietta has to offer,” Dowiak said. “It’s validating to have others believe in your idea, not just yourself. It’s also encouraging to have professionals and professors offer their time to help you develop your product and business plan. Without this competition, I wouldn’t have exposure to this entrepreneurial mindset and all the opportunities to develop it within myself.”