Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Grambling business pitch sparks creativity and ambition for students

by BIZ Magazine

GRAMBLING – Students and faculty at Grambling State University (GSU) gathered to watch the final pitches in the 2023 Golden Pitch competition held recently at the university’s campus. The Golden Pitch was presented by GSU and BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) — which provides services to innovative startups and works to stimulate entrepreneurship opportunities in North Louisiana.

GSU and EAP have partnered for a fourth year to continue their work to help prepare students for entrepreneurship and provide an opportunity for experiential learning.

“The Golden Pitch allows our students to gain valuable skills in business planning, pitch presentations, and most importantly, allows them to showcase their creativity, innovation, and ideas,” said Dr. Derrick Warren, Dean of the College of Business at Grambling State University. “Our goal is to develop the entrepreneurial mindset in our students, and our partnership with EAP helps equip our students to solve real world problems with smart, creative solutions.”

Five finalists competed for $4,500 in cash and additional prizes during a business pitch event held by GSU and EAP. To prepare for the final event, student competitors first participated in an extensive consulting and business development workshop. They then submitted a business plan, financial analysis, and pitch presentations for evaluation to determine the finalists who would be eligible to compete for prize money.

The finalists competing for the top prize were:

  • Providence Marshall, Green Fashion
  • Emmanuel Nnanna, Power9ja
  • Kennedi Owens, The Time Saver
  • Ameena Pearson, Knowledge of Technology
  • Adrian Turner, Training a Prodigy

Kennedi Owens won first place and a cash prize of $3,000 for her idea, The Time Saver, a machine to help fashion designers and artists save time sketching and planning.    

“I decided to enter the Golden Pitch because I knew I had a great idea, and I was excited that the department was offering the opportunity for students,” said Owens. “As a student, the experience in this competition has helped me to gain more confidence in presenting information and ideas in front of others.”

Emmanuel Nnanna won second place and a cash prize of $1,000 for his business idea, Power9ja, which is a business that creates and sells power inverters with the goal of stabilizing the power supply for people in Nigeria. Providence Marshall placed third for her business idea, Green Fashion — an eco-friendly clothing brand.   

All three teams also won professional services from EAP for six months and will be eligible to compete in the 2024 Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup, a statewide business pitch competition with a grand prize of $50,000.  

The following GSU faculty and community business professionals served as judges during the online final pitch competition:

  • William Anderson, Financial Analyst, Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP)
  • Tisha Arnold, Director of Communications, GSU
  • Dr. Stacey Duhon, Dean of Arts & Sciences, GSU
  • Christy Hamlin, Strategy, Planning, and Operations Consultant
  • Dr. Carolyn Hester, Dean of Professional Studies, GSU
  • Brandon Logan, Advancement & Innovation, GSU
  • Lisa “Lee” Morris, Gallagher
  • Na’Tisha Natt, Nexus Louisiana
  • Jakeithia Prejean, Director, Center of Mathematical Advancement of Science and Technology (CMAST)
  • Dr. Ellen Smiley, Dean of the Honors College, GSU
  • Dr. Debbie G. Thomas, Dean of the College of Education, GSU
  • Dr. Connie Walton, Provost, GSU
  • Adrienne Webber, Dean of the Digital Library & Learning Commons, GSU  

In addition, GSU had a number of mentors and alumni advisors helping students:

  • D. Thanos Smith
  • Kimberly Penn
  • Angela Davis
  • Dewanna Jefferson
  • Jerald “JJ” Johnson
  • Amanda Sapp
  • Aviva Seabrook
  • Susan Wiley

“I was beyond impressed with how well the students did presenting their ideas during The Golden Pitch competition. I was especially impressed how each contestant had ideas focused on making a positive impact on people in their communities and the world at large,” said William Anderson, Financial Analyst for EAP. “I believe the best businesses focus on solving problems and creating value, and profits naturally arise for those who do that the best. I saw a lot of those qualities on display today at Grambling.”

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