5 Minutes Tops

"... The 5 Minutes Tops event
is unique in the fact that it
is a truly entrepreneurial experience for the students and audience; an event
where ideas are shared and then discussed."

–David Leighton
(President and CEO, LEIGHTRONIX)

Holt, MI — At a long table in the front of a well-stocked auditorium sat 10 of the most successful businesspeople in the area. Their combined experience expels years of knowledge valuable to anyone motivated enough to start their own business. However, the audience was not there for them, instead offering support to the students pitching businesses and inventions to the group of savvy investors. This is 5 Minutes Tops, a rewarding program for young people looking to get an early start on their small business plans. Clearly the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in mid-Michigan.


Alongside other industrious entrepreneurs at the front of the room was David Leighton, President and CEO of LEIGHTRONIX. Recognizing the worth of the program, Leighton not only offered his business experience, but a welcomed bit of technology as well. LEIGHTRONIX provided a high-definition live stream with its VieBit™ streaming service. For the first time ever, anyone interested in viewing the event, but unable to attend in person, could see the whole thing online.

5 Minutes Tops

In 2013, Luke Schrauben, then business education teacher at Grand Ledge Public Schools, came up with the idea for 5 Minutes Tops after watching the popular Shark Tank program on ABC. He had prepared a specific lesson for his courses mirroring the show. Though the activity was well-received, Schrauben realized there was a smaller group of students really taking the concept seriously. Wanting to better support those willing to go the extra mile, a specialized event was formed, requiring interested students to participate outside of a strictly school-oriented setting. Jerry Norris, a well-known entrepreneur in the area, suggested giving students a chance to win real money for their start-ups after going through the class project.

Leighton and Schrauben

“The idea was, right before summer break, the students could pitch this idea, win a little money and use that to help them get started. Maybe instead of trying to find a summer job, they could use that to start a summer job.” — Luke Schrauben

After running the idea by his marketing students, it was determined that something representing a quick, non-threatening presentation would best appeal to younger demographics. Thus, 5 Minutes Tops was born: a series of quick pitches for a chance to win actual money. What started as a class project has since transformed into a full-blown circuit of events. Students first compete at the local level with a chance to win money from a thousand-dollar pot, and then potentially move on to a regional competition set up by Eaton RESA at Lansing Community College for a several thousand dollar pot. Two weeks after regionals is the final round of the circuit: the LEAP Youth Startup Expo at the Lansing Center for a pot of $10,000!

LEIGHTRONIX Streaming Solutions

As a self-started businessperson, Leighton recognized the importance of the event:

“I am always interested in helping young people that show an interest in learning and want to help themselves. The Holt 5 Minutes Tops event intrigued me on several levels. The idea of local students having the courage to present to an audience that includes a panel of local businesspeople, knowing they will be put on the spot with questions, certainly satisfies the criteria of wanting to learn and help one’s self.” — David Leighton

Initially becoming a judge for the Holt 5 Minutes Tops event in 2014, Leighton decided to bump things up a notch this time around. This year, anyone in the world could view the event by heading to a dedicated streaming site hosted by the VieBit live streaming platform from LEIGHTRONIX.

LEIGHTRONIX donated a whole slew of recording devices to the event. Two HD cameras were positioned at opposite sides of the auditorium, connected to an HD switcher for full coverage of the event that could be controlled from a single location. Since the auditorium didn’t have a way of gathering high-quality audio for the stream, audio solutions were also provided.

IncodeX Vier

The real star of the donated equipment, however, was the IncodeX Vier™, which delivered flawless, high-definition video to the VieBit streaming service. Since the IncodeX Vier is able to send one input to multiple destinations, it simultaneously recorded an Internet-ready video-on-demand file for future playback.

The prospect of a live stream opens up a lot of doors for community events in general. Right off the bat, the potential for audience size increases dramatically. Physical location no longer limits viewership. In the case of the IncodeX Vier, a separate video file can also be generated, allowing viewers to refer back to the event. Live streaming also provides a certain amount of hype to any event, community or otherwise, encouraging people to either tune in, or show up and potentially be streamed to any number of viewers.

For Schrauben, the live stream was most exciting for generational reasons. Live streaming at the community level is a great way to attract younger viewers. It’s an undeniable truth that younger generations are more likely to view video content through Internet-enabled devices. The mere existence of a 5 Minutes Tops stream on the Internet draws attention to the relevant nature of the event. To someone who watches video content online, this is a marked appeal to their interests and generational culture.

The Cutaway

Cutaway Graphic

5 Minutes Tops is one of those up-and-coming programs bound for great things. It represents the best of American culture, that can-do entrepreneurial spirit so prevalent in our historical mythos, but it also has the potential to really uplift the region. In describing the motivations behind the program, Schrauben mentioned a “low barrier of entry” to the process. It doesn’t matter your background or current standing in life; get an idea, develop it enough to throw out a pitch, show up to the event and get a ton of important insight from business leaders of the region.

This is a big reason why Leighton became a part of the program in the first place, in turn providing technological support to the Holt High School event. 5 Minutes Tops offers a positive outlet for mid-Michigan youth to better themselves, something Leighton himself has a significant interest in.

LEIGHTRONIX Plus 5 Minutes Tops

As an independent businessperson, Leighton started LEIGHTRONIX from scratch in the early eighties. Creating a great solution to a specific problem, but then trying to actually make the solution a sound investment in the long term, can be an intimidating and overwhelming process, something that surely resonates with both Leighton and the young entrepreneurs. Getting past that first plateau, or in this case, actually deciding to act on a dream or idea is a crucial first step to success. 5 Minutes Tops helps bridge that gap between idea and action, giving a welcome boost to innovation and the development of future businesspeople.

Click here for more information on the IncodeX Vier, which was used to stream the 5 Minutes Tops event at Holt High School. Head to the 5 Minutes Tops website to find out more about the program.

The Problem

The 5 Minutes Tops event at Holt High School needed a way to show student presentations outside of the auditorium for those who were unable to attend.

The Solution

How It Works

Two high-quality HD cameras feed into an HD switcher connected to an IncodeX Vier where the video stream is encoded and sent to VieBit streaming services. From there, the live feed is available to anyone who accesses the custom-branded VieBit website.

In Their Words

"It [the live stream] gives us some legitimacy and excitement."

–Luke Schrauben
5 Minutes Tops

End Result

"One of the bonds between an individual and his/her family and friends is sharing life events with one another. However, each of us has family and friends that could be unavailable for travel causing them to miss out on sharing our special events. Until recently, the ability to transmit live, high-quality video and audio from a local event to a select group of individuals was impractical given the necessary technology and costs associated with an online broadcast. In contrast to just a few years ago, today, practically everyone with a cell phone can stream; however, the video and audio quality is usually so bad that viewers fatigue quickly and tune away. With VieBit, LEIGHTRONIX offers a cost-effective streaming solution that provides professional results."

–David Leighton
President and CEO

At a Glance

  • Name: 5 Minutes Tops

  • Location: Holt, MI

  • Description: A Shark Tank-esque competition where students pitch their ideas to a group of local entrepreneurs and business owners for a chance to receive funding.

  • Circuit: 5 Minutes Tops events occur throughout mid-Michigan. From local competitions, like the one at Holt High School, up to a regional competition at Eaton RESA on Lansing Community College’s west campus.

  • Regionals: A larger event than the local competitions, the regional 5 Minutes Tops event at Eaton RESA features musical guests and a much larger pot for students to win. Qualifying pitches can dip into a pool of $3,000.

  • Youth Startup Expo: The largest event, which is put on by LEAP, offers a huge pot of $10,000 for students to potentially win funding from.

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