Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Student takes entrepreneurship to next level with Centenary Business Pitch Competition win

by BIZ Magazine

Students aiming to establish or grow their own businesses were just given a boost of cash and prizes from Centenary College for their winning ideas as part of the annual Frost Pitch Challenge recently held on the college’s campus.

The competition was presented by Centenary College of Louisiana’s Frost School of Business and BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) — which provides services to innovative startups and works to stimulate entrepreneurship opportunities in North Louisiana. Centenary and EAP have partnered for a third year to continue their work to help prepare students to be leaders and entrepreneurs in North Louisiana.

Four finalist teams competed for nearly $5,000 in cash and prizes. To prepare for the final event, student competitors first participated in speed consulting and business development workshops online and in person. They then submitted pitch presentations for evaluation to determine the finalists who would be eligible to compete in the final round.

The winning team and finalists were announced at a special banquet and awards ceremony where they networked with local leaders in education and business, mentors and sponsors. The top cash prize of $3,000 was awarded to Julien DeLeon for his business idea of a screen repair company that saves their customers time and hassle by taking the repair service direct to their customers.

DeLeon has operated a business for eight years; his winnings from the Frost Pitch Challenge will help him buy new inventory and expand his product offerings.

“I have a strong work ethic – I’ve been mowing lawns since I was 10 years old,” said DeLeon. “It led to iPhone repairs and now I’m always on my toes, looking for the next opportunity.”

Zuri Jenkins won second place and a cash prize of $1,000 for Unis, an app idea to teach diversity training in the workplace. Chrys Jackson placed third for his business idea The Art of Success, a clothing company with a focus on community impact. MBA student Lauren Hawkins won fourth place and a $250 cash prize for her company Hawkins Homes, a rental property group in Shreveport.

All four teams also won professional services from EAP for six months can compete in the statewide Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup in spring 2023.

“With each year that passes, our students show up more experienced, seasoned, and ready to create their own entrepreneurial paths for the future,” said Dr. Barbara Davis, William J. Atkins Dean of the Frost School of Business, and Professor of Accounting & Finance. “This competitive experience provides that added support in whatever area of business they need to work on to be better, smarter and more prepared for running their own businesses.”

The following Centenary faculty and community business professionals served as judges during the final business pitch competition:
Lindsay Atkins, Former News Producer, KTBS-TV
Amanda Flynn, Interim Director, Louisiana Small Business Development Center, Southern University
Taylor Jamison, Principal and Political Affairs Analyst, Trinity Operating
Jim Malsch, Managing Member, JRM Ventures, LLC
Dave Smith, Executive Director, BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program

“Some of our student competitors have already gotten a head start by launching their businesses and earning money while still in school,” said Dave Smith, Executive Director of EAP. “This year’s challenge has shown us that students are not only ready to rise to the challenge of entrepreneurship in Louisiana, they want to achieve even higher levels of success by honing their skills with the help of the mentors and educators associated with the competition.”

“I’m a true believer in entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Christopher Holoman, President of Centenary College. “It will continue to be one of the great drivers of economic success in Shreveport-Bossier. As you know, Centenary takes very seriously its role as Shreveport- Bossier’s college and so we really want to work together to continue to foster that atmosphere of startup and entrepreneurship.”

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