UNCW’s Rocket Pitch competition showcases student entrepreneurship

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

UNCW student James Plott won first place in the 2021 UNCW Rocket Pitch competition for his idea of ​​starting a glamorous camping business using glass dome tents. Plott was among 34 student nominees and 11 finalists who presented their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of nine judges.

Sponsored by the Cameron School of Business with support from the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the annual competition provides undergraduate and graduate students from all fields the opportunity to share their ideas for new businesses or new products.

Xaver Neumeyer, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, has overseen student competitions and related events like this for several years and worked with faculty member Jay Schach to recruit and mentor participants. Heather McWhorter, Acting Director of the CIE and Director of the SBTDC, assisted in the recruitment of judges and also served on the jury, which included a variety of local professionals.

“This is an opportunity to help energize students as they develop impactful ideas through the mechanism of entrepreneurship,” said Neumeyer. “A lot of them have never presented an idea to a panel of judges, so they have to think things through, research their competition and target audiences, and learn how to sketch a business plan. “

Like the popular TV show Shark aquarium, the finalists presented a 90-second pitch to the judges, who then asked questions and selected the winners. Ideas ranged from music subscription services to recycling scanners to a beer delivery service for microbreweries.

“It was great to hear the judges’ comments and their thought-provoking questions,” Plott said. “One of the comments from the judges made me rethink my long-term business strategy of owning, operating and managing Glamping Geodome Retreats, and I now plan to act more as a developer of these retreats, coming out after a year of successful operation.

Second place winners, Valentin Schwoerer and Emily Goutille, two international students studying entrepreneurship and business development, presented a bespoke beverage box sales service called Party box.

Fiona Turner, who studies art in the studio, and Erica Santiago, MBA candidate, majoring in entrepreneurship, tied for third place in the competition. turner Like you is a non-profit idea that would provide mental health support and resources to students. that of Santiago Sistas Living Life (SLL) is a membership organization that connects black women on outings, excursions and special events.

“The Rocket Pitch competition gave me the opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience on how to pitch an idea and prepare for future business opportunities,” said Turner. “I really enjoyed having the chance to hear the comments from the judges, and I think I am much more prepared and comfortable presenting in these types of environments thanks to my participation. “

Santiago, who has been working on his concept and business plan for SLL for over a decade, also enjoyed the learning experience.

“Listening to the presentations, follow-up questions from the judges and what they enjoyed most about the winning presentations has already helped me shorten and refine my presentation,” said Santiago, who plans to launch his business in the 30’s. days following the competition.

The competition prizes included a $ 250 gift card for first place, a $ 200 gift card for second place, and a $ 150 gift card for third place.

–Krissy Vicky


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