UA Graduate Wins $1,000 In 60-Second Business Pitch Competition

Omar Kasim, center, receives a check for $1,000 after winning the IdeaFame pitch competition Wednesday, Feb. 26, inside the University of Arkansas' Basketball Performance Center. Kasim is joined by UA athletic staff Justin Johnson, Jon Fagg and Elvis Moya, and Caleb Talley, director of marketing and events at Startup Junkie. Johnson, Fagg and Moya served as judges.
Brandon Howard

Omar Kasim, center, receives a check for $1,000 after winning the IdeaFame pitch competition Wednesday, Feb. 26, inside the University of Arkansas' Basketball Performance Center. Kasim is joined by UA athletic staff Justin Johnson, Jon Fagg and Elvis Moya, and Caleb Talley, director of marketing and events at Startup Junkie. Johnson, Fagg and Moya served as judges.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas graduate and local small business owner Omar Kasim won over judges at Wednesday's IdeamFame pitch competition, taking home $1,000 he plans to invest in his new company.

Kasim, who founded Con Quesos Fusion Tacos in Fayetteville, recently launched Sider, an online platform to connect students and businesses. Kasim said the app is designed to get students quality work experience while keeping costs low for business owners.

"As a small business owner, this is something I'm extremely passionate about — just helping small businesses and students develop themselves to get employed upon graduation," Kasim said.

Kasim said the money will allow him to hire students to develop the platform, something he describes as "for students, by students."

"Whenever I got started in the restaurant world, I didn't have a lot of money," Kasim said. "What I did have were connections to UA, so I decided to outsource all of our design work to UA students and realized I could make a business out of this."

The competition was a joint effort between Startup Junkie and the University of Arkansas men's basketball team. Entrepreneurs had 60 seconds to make their pitch to a three-judge panel of UA associate athletic directors.

More than a dozen entrepreneurs made their pitch on the practice court inside the Basketball Performance Center. A shot clock buzzer sounded after 60 seconds, although no one ran afoul of the timer.

Grace Dickinson, a 12-year-old student at St. Joseph Catholic School in Fayetteville, was the People's Choice Winner. She also received $1,000, which she plans to invest in an illustrated Christian children's book she and her family created.

Dickinson said she made the 60-second pitch on behalf of her siblings and parents, who worked together around the dinner table to develop a manuscript.

"It turned out to be a great event," said Caleb Talley, director of marketing and events at Startup Junkie. "There were some incredible ideas pitched, and I appreciate any opportunity for the community to learn more about entrepreneurship."

Contacts

Brandon Howard, communications and social media specialist
Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
479-418-4803, bjhoward@uark.edu

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