2014 Advent

Students Excel at Entrepreneurial Challenge

Photos of Participants, mentors, judges and organizers from Entrepreneurial challenge 2014Participants, mentors, judges and organizers at the 2104 Entrepreneurial Challenge

Seven student teams pitched their start-up ideas at the Babson Center's Sewanee 2014 Entrepreneurial Challenge (S4EC) earlier this month. The Challenge is designed to give students a taste of what it takes to secure the financing needed to create a new entrepreneurial venture.

Photo from 2014 Entrepreneurial ChallengeS4EC started early in the semester when students signed up for the competition. Following a training session on generating business propositions, students submitted a business idea and were paired with alumni and community mentors.  Together, the mentors and students refined the business idea. Training sessions on writing a business plan and perfecting a business pitch followed. Students submitted full business plans to the judges to be reviewed. Then they had the opportunity to pitch their idea to a live audience and answer any questions the judges had about their business.

‌Hannah Gallagher, a sophomore economics/French studies double major and business minor won first place in the overall competition and also won the award for the best social entrepreneurship proposal. Her winning business plan, “Zabi” was for a mail-order birth control company that would devote part of its earnings to causes that support access to birth control and sex education in the developing world. In the photo to the right, Gallagher is at the left with her mentor, Rivers Powers. 

Second place went to Eva Moss and James Wildasin for their plan for "My Locale," a non-profit business that would support efficient forestry management and improved urban food source and resource management. Moss is a senior anthropology major and geology minor. Wildasen is a junior forestry major. Wildasen and Moss are at right with Babson Center Operations Manager Janna Brown McClain and Center Director Chip Manning.

Photos from the 2014 Entrepreneurial ChallengeTran Ly, a sophomore economics major and an Asian studies and business double minor, took the third place award for "PawPurfect," a proposal for a company that would offer a non-toxic alternative to nail polish. Ly is in the photo at right with McClain and Manning.

Gallagher took home a $300 cash prize for her first-place finish and another $150 for the best social entrepreneurship plan. She is also eligible to receive a grant of up to $5,000 to fund further development of her plan if she chooses to attempt to create a working business. Moss and Wildasen shared a $200 prize, and Ly was awarded a $100 prize for her achievement.

The judges said their deliberations were difficult because of the overall high quality of the proposed start-ups. Also competing in the Entrepreneurial Challenge were:

  • Sophomore David Harkins, who offered "Coins-2-Cash," a kiosk-based device that would exchange coins for currency and offer merchants an advertising platform;
  • Freshman Daniel Gabriel, with "College Connect," a proposal for a collaborative online platform where students could study together;
  • Sophomores Joe Randazzo and George Pratt, proposing "SpeakEasy," a social platform where students could work with each other internationally to learn foreign languages; and
  • Freshmen Hamza Chaudhary and Colton Conley, with their plan to build the "Sewanee Interactive Map," which would make navigating the University campus and the Sewanee area easier.

Photo of Judges deliberating after listening to the students' business pitches from 2014 Entrepreneurial ChallengeJudges (above) deliberated after listening to the students' business pitches.

 Serving as mentors and judges were:

  • Arden Grady (C' 09), who runs her own social media content management, marketing, and consulting business. 
  • Steve McDavid, who is the President of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation. He is a member of the American Bar Association, served as a delegate for the Mississippi Bar from 1996-1998 and as the President, Vice President, and Secretary for the Lafayette County Bar.
  • Dan Marcum, who is the Executive Director of the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers, and serves as Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Relevance Capital. He currently manages a portfolio of seed and early-stage investments.
  • Elizabeth Sweezey Morrell (C’ 07), a New York-based entrepreneur who is developing technology to make auctions and sales more efficient for Kentucky Thoroughbred horse breeders. 
  • Patrick Morrell (C’ 07), whose career has included roles in enterprise research sales, campaign politics and press communications, business development at a tech marketing start-up, and overseeing the inside sales team at another firm.
  • Allie O’Connell (C’10), who is is currently CEO of Carbon Objects, cofounded with Reed Tomlinson. 
  • Rivers Powers (C’ 03), who is the client services manager for a corporate employee wellness engagement firm, Extracon Science, and has served as managing director of a early-stage investment program.
  • Kathy Solomon, who provides  cash management, benefits management, and financial and business management services to franchise businesses.
  • Reed Tomlinson (C'10), who is now working on his third start-up, Carbon Objects, co-founded with Allie O'Connell. 

For more photos from the Sewanee 2014 Entrepreneurial Challenge and other events at the Babson Center for Global Commerce, visit the Center's photo site.