Richard Christakes’ idea to connect buyers with plants they want from sellers closest to them was this year’s winner in Purdue University Northwest’s annual Big Sell pitch competition.
Christakes, CEO of Alsip Home & Nursery, which has a St. John location, and co-owner of True Mtn Marketing, took first place in the competition and landed $10,000 for his business concept Ship My Plants. His business model is designed to minimize stress on plants, save shipping time and costs and reduce carbon emissions.
“Year after year the PNW Big Sell showcases the innovation and entrepreneurship in Northwest Indiana,” said Kristin Burton, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at PNW. “Each year I am excited to see what business ideas and concepts will be presented.”
This year’s competition included 12 finalists.
Pair Drew Jarvis and Cindy Belardo finished second and received $3,000 for their product, Sunny Cup, a reusable feminine hygiene product which is lower in cost, better for the environment and free from harmful chemicals and dyes, when compared to similar feminine hygiene products on the market.
Dan Durochik took third place and $1,000 for Alert Lift, an automatic garage door opener with an integrated carbon monoxide detector.
The 12 finalists delivered six-minute pitches to a three-member panel of judges. The panel included Rockland Page, Emily Edwards, and Scott Massey, all entrepreneurs who won awards in past PNW Big Sell competitions.