Tuck’s Dia Draper Wins Dartmouth Pitch Entrepreneurial Competition

Dia Draper, director of strategic initiatives at Tuck, created a product to help people who, like her, have survived cancer.

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Dia Draper’s winning Pitch project is a unique care package for cancer patients.

Co-sponsored by The DEN, the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, and DALI, the Digital Arts, Leadership, and Innovation Lab, The Pitch is a public forum where inventors—students, faculty, and staff—make two-minute pitches for products they want to bring to market.

DALI winners get technical assistance with software and websites. DEN’s first prize is $2,000, and second is $1,500. The People’s Choice winner, selected by the audience, gets $1,000.

DEN’s first prize this year went to Dia Draper, director of strategic initiatives, who has started a gift basket company. Draper created her product to help people who, like her, have survived cancer.

“In August 2011, I was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer,” she explains. “During my treatment, I received over 300 pieces of mail, goodies, and gifts.” As she was recovering, Draper’s friends asked her to help them figure out what to send to other people battling cancer.

“Speaking just for myself,” Draper says, “I didn’t want something all tied up in a ribbon. That just reminded me that I was sick. I didn’t need anything to tell me that I was in a fight for my life. I was terrified. So this box, if you get it, doesn’t scream, ‘You’re sick.’”

Instead, she says, a thoughtful care package should overflow with fun but practical items to make hospital rooms more livable, and to help cope with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, such as dehydration, nausea, and nerve problems. Possible gifts include colorful, soft blankets and towels; ginger candies to settle uneasy stomachs; a plastic-clad, glass-lined water bottle that’s easy for a nerve-damaged hand to hold; card games; adult coloring books; and a box of Red Kite Candy, made by a local company that is owned by a cancer survivor.

“This basket is for survivors by survivors,” says Draper. She says she and her partner will use the $2,000 Pitch award to start building an e-commerce system—“We’re just selling these through word of mouth right now”—and pay for professional product photography. She’s grateful to The DEN for offering a pre-contest clinic to help contestants prepare to win over the judges. “You really learn to tell your story well in two minutes,” she says.

Read the full story from Dartmouth News.