Students at Northwestern State University (NSU) pitched their hot business ideas for the 2023 Inferno Pitch competition. The competition was presented by NSU’s School of Business, College of Business and Technology and BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) — which provides services to innovative startups and works to stimulate entrepreneurship opportunities in North Louisiana. NSU and EAP have partnered for a sixth year to continue their work to help prepare students for entrepreneurship and provide an experiential learning opportunity.
Three finalist teams competed for $4,500 in cash and additional prizes during a hybrid business pitch event held by NSU and EAP. To prepare for the final event, student competitors first participated in an extensiveconsulting and business development workshop. They then submitted a business plan, financial analysis, and pitch presentation for evaluation to determine the finalists who would be eligible to compete for prize money. The top cash prize of $3,000 was awarded to Joshua Pierite for Skye Technologies, a data analytics consulting business.
“I knew entering the competition would be a challenge, but I wanted to give my best effort and competing really gave me a lot of confidence,” said Joshua Pierite, a senior majoring in business administration.
Lydia Phillips won second place and a cash prize of $1,000 for her business idea, Insomniac’s Guild Cafe, which is an idea for a café and diner that stays open all night. David Melonja, Dorothy Sosnowski, Vallouise Daniel, Keith McCrory, Mark Ennis, and Rowena Saensane placed third for their business idea, Bliss Buddy — a mental health app meant to help users stay accountable for daily tasks and activities.
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.
“I was most impressed with the variety of ideas this year,” said Dr. Carmella Parker, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Outreach and Special Projects at NSU’s School of Business, College of Business and Technology. “From a software company to a café to mental health awareness, I know our students will be impactful in any industry.”
The following NSU faculty and community business professionals served as judges during the online final pitch competition:
– Stephen Goodfellow, Financial Analyst, Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP)
– Joanna Washington, Vice President, City Bank & Trust
– Ronnie Williams, Jr., Mayor, City of Natchitoches
“I found the participants compelling and their optimism refreshing,” said Stephen Goodfellow, Financial Analyst for EAP. “One should expect to see great things coming from Northwestern State University.”