Sewanee means business

Entrepreneurial challenge prompts great ideas and rewards innovation

Contestants, judges, and mentors pose for a photo at the 2014 Sewanee Entrepreneurial Challenge

At Sewanee last November, seven student teams pitched their start-up ideas for the Sewanee 2014 Entrepreneurial Challenge (S4EC). The Challenge is designed to give students a taste of what it takes to secure the financing needed to create a new entrepreneurial venture.

S4EC was hosted by Sewanee’s Babson Center for Global Commerce, which focuses on leveraging Sewanee’s deeply-rooted liberal arts educational tradition to empower students seeking careers in business. The center offers scholarships, internships, a social entrepreneurship program, and other tools to train students and help them find satisfying business careers after graduation.

First-place winner Hannah Gallagher (left) with her mentor, Rivers Powers; third-place winner Tran Ly (right) with her mentor, Allie O’Connell

Students signed up for the competition early in the semester and embarked on the tumultuous journey that is the start-up process. A training session on generating business propositions gave students the tools they needed to submit a business idea. Then, they were paired with alumni and community mentors.  Together, the mentors and students refined the idea. They learned how to write a business plan and perfect a pitch. Finally, they had to step up and put their hard work out in the open to be reviewed. Judges looked over the business plans. The students had to make their pitch to a live audience and answer the judges’ questions on the fly.

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.

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.

Judges gather to meet prior to the challenge.
From left: Reed Tomlinson, Allie O’Connell, Kathy Solomon, Sullivan Foundation president Steve McDavid, Babson Center Operations Manager Janna Brown McClain, Babson Center Director Chip Manning, and Dan Marcum

Tran 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.

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.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply