49er Impact Fall 2021

Fall 2021 49er Impact

49er Impact UNC Charlotte's Path to Global Entrepreneurship Week
Ventureprise 49er Impact
Caleb Archidi, Plant Based Utopia
Amelia Ho, Buddy Up
Tonia Milam, Small Town Culture Shift
Deanna Glenn, Active Discipleship

The Fall 2021 49er Impact Pitch Competition featured seven undergraduate and graduate students at UNC Charlotte. These participants focused on social impact ideas, whether on campus or out in the community. They attended several workshops, panel discussions and mentorship hours over the course of five weeks. They went above and beyond in creating a three- to four-minute pitch for their ideas, and there is a bright future that lies ahead for each and every one of them.

49er Impact gave students the opportunity to develop their ideas for social impact, whether it was a program, an application or a platform for change. The tools and skills provided at the workshops and mentorships helped them create their pitches. Click here for more information on this semester’s participants and finalists.

Let’s put UNC Charlotte on the map for Global Entrepreneurship Week. You can also read about our Pitch Competition results here!

Ventureprise is offering you a chance to make an impact–and you get to choose your path. Do you have an idea and want to pivot it into a business? Do you want to examine social ideas and look at ways to make an impact? The 49er Impact event gives you the opportunity to take your ideas to the next level, participate in a mentorship and ideation launch, and compete for cash and other prizes.

In response to student feedback from our Spring 2021 competition, Ventureprise has extended our 49er Impact into an interactive competition throughout the Fall 2021 semester. We will be hosting a number of workshops, panels, mentor office hours, networking and other initiatives geared to meet student needs. These events, along with other curricular and co-curricular activities, will culminate in a showcase and competition during the Global Entrepreneurship Week on Nov. 8-12, thus putting Charlotte on the global entrepreneurship map.

Get some inspiration. Check out this semester’s winners here–many of whom
talked about their ideas for the first time!

Sign up today! It only takes 2 minutes, and you can take the month of
October to learn more and work on your idea.

49er Impact Sign up for more information today: Interest forms are open. Sign up today! Activities begin in October - with Kickoff Workshop on 10/6


(See Step 2 below for dates and other details)

Week 1 – Introductory Workshop (Zoom): An information session on the 49er Impact program and the timeline of events.

Week 2 – Panel of Experts (Zoom): A panel discussion of entrepreneurs and previous winners of 49er Impact.

Week 3 – Workshop (Zoom): A workshop to help you define your problem and pitch your idea.

Week 4 – Mentorships (Zoom): A 30-minute meeting with any of our mentors during their office hours.

Week 5 – Final Steps (Zoom): Finalize your four-minute pitches throughout the week of Nov. 1.

**The deadline to submit your pitch is Monday, Nov. 8 at noon.**

STEP ONE: Decide to Participate Now

Business OR Social Change. Both provide the same opportunities; they’re just different approaches.

STEP TWO: attend Workshops, panels AND mentor office hours

This fall, we will be offering a number of workshops, panels and mentorship opportunities so that students can develop their ideas over a longer period of time. We will be offering multiple activities to coordinate with everyone’s schedule.

Week 1 – Introductory Workshop (Zoom)

This workshop serves as an information session on the 49er Impact program and the timeline of events. You will get the chance to introduce yourselves, discuss your potential ideas and learn a little bit about customer discovery, pitches and available resources at Ventureprise and the Charlotte campus.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 7:00 p.m.

Week 2 – Panel of Experts (Zoom)

This event will feature a panel of entrepreneurs and previous winners of 49er Impact. You will be able to hear from experts in social change and business and learn how to approach your ideas. The panel will be recorded, and you can sign up for access using the application form.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 7:00 p.m.

Week 3 – Workshop (Zoom)

This workshop is designed to help you define your problem and pitch your idea. Now that you have been learning about the competition and working on your ideas for a few weeks, you will be able to get some feedback. You will also have the opportunity to complete exercises in customer discovery.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 22 at 3:00 p.m.

Week 4 – Mentorships (Zoom)

This week, you will check in with any of our mentors during their office hours and continue working on your pitch. You can receive expert advice on how to present a pitch and make your ideas shine. We will send you a list of available times, and you can sign up for 30-minute time slots according to your schedule. There will not be any live events this week.

Week 5 – Final Steps for Your Pitch (Zoom)

You should finalize your four-minute pitches throughout the week of Nov. 1. We will host a workshop on how to present a pitch using what you have learned during customer discovery. You can schedule additional meetings with a mentor as well.

  • Monday, Nov. 1 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Laura Smailes’ Office Hours: Friday, Nov. 5 at 12:00-1:00 p.m. and 3:30-5:00 p.m.
  • The deadline to submit your pitch is Monday, Nov. 8 at noon.

STEP THREE: 49er Impact Pitch Competition

During the week of Nov. 8-12, Ventureprise will hold a pitch competition and showcase. There will be two categories (Business and Social), and you will compete according to your category. We will announce the winners of the 49er Impact program on Nov. 10, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. Visit our Global Entrepreneurship Week page for more information.

As our 2018 winner Fidel Henriquez states, taking the leap and trying is “low risk and high reward.”

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Is this a virtual event?

A. Yes and no. We want as many students to participate as possible, so we are holding most events virtually, but we are going to try and do a few in person! The pitch competition itself will be held on Nov. 10, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. over Zoom.

Q: I have never entered this type of competition. How do I know what to expect?

A. We have developed this competition so many can participate. We have workshops to help you along the way and have spaced out the competitions to give you time to prepare. You bring the idea; we equip you with the tools for success. Check out some of our first-time participants who went on to win the competition! Fidel Henriquez won as a freshman. Adonis Abdullah won as a sophomore. And Sahithi Meduri went on to be named (along with Adonis and Fidel) as Charlotte Inno’s 25 Under 25 to Watch. Here is a link to all of the participants from Spring 2021.

Q: How do I sign up?

A. Currently, you can sign up with a short (2-minute) form, and we will be in touch with additional information and event dates. Click here for the sign-up form.

Q: Who is eligible for the 49er Impact?

A. All Charlotte students–any college, any major–all are welcome.

Q: What types of issues will be addressed? Can I come up with my own idea?

A. For the social issues workshop, Chance for Change, we will have some ideas to help start the conversations. We will cover environmental issues, social justice and improving the quality of life, and many other topics. And we want your input!

Q: I’m not an ‘entrepreneur,’ so will I be competitive?

A. Absolutely! This is an impact challenge, and we are wanting to help you with your ideas to make a difference.

Q: What types of ideas are you looking for to enter the competition?

A. We have a few categories selected, but you can work on identifying and solving any problem on campus, in your community, nationally or internationally. There are no limits for our entries, so you can include your ideas on your application to let us know what you are thinking.

Q: Do I have to start a company if I win the competition?

A. There is no direct path to starting a company after the competition. We want to hear your ideas and work with you to get to the next level. Whether it is starting a student organization, implementing a program or launching a business, this is the opportunity to launch your idea and see where it can take you.

Q: Can I join the 49er Foundry after participating in 49er Impact?

A. Yes, the 49er Foundry has rolling applications, and anyone can apply for a spot as long as they are in good standing with the university. Visit the 49er Foundry page for more information.

Q: How much funding would I be able to receive?

A. There will be multiple categories for prizes, and we will be giving away over $1500 total. Your pitch can win in the following categories: grand prize, campus impact, community impact and the crowd favorite. The number of prizes and the amounts of each prize depend on how many total participants we have. Stay tuned for more details!

Q: What if I am unable to attend one or more events leading up to the pitch competition? Do I have to attend all of them in order to compete?

A. You are not required to participate in the pre-pitch competition workshops and events. However, students who do participate will receive the added benefits of mentorship and support, making them more likely to succeed during the competition. Keep in mind that the deadline to submit your pitch is Monday, Nov. 8 at noon!

Q: How do I submit my pitch?

A. You can record your pitch on a laptop or other computer as many times as you need. Once you have finished recording, you can email the video file to Laura Smailes (lsmailes@uncc.edu) or upload it to a Google Drive folder that she will make available to all participants.

Q: More questions?

A. Just ask! Email Laura Smailes: lsmailes@uncc.edu

FALL 2021

The Fall 2021 49er Impact Pitch Competition featured seven finalists, undergraduate and graduate, students from four of the seven different colleges at UNC Charlotte. These participants focused on social impact ideas, both on campus and in the community. They attended workshops, panel discussions and mentorship hours over the course of five weeks. They went above and beyond in creating a four-minute recorded pitch for their ideas, and there is a bright future for each and every one of them.

49er Impact gave students the opportunity to develop their ideas for social impact, whether it was a program, an application or a platform for change. The tools and skills provided at the workshops and mentorships helped them develop their ideas and create their pitches. This event would not have been possible without the crucial help of our mentors and judges. The mentors and judges, who each have deep UNC Charlotte ties, were available to aid students with their ideation, creation and pitch.

Read more about the Pitch Competition results here!

Judges and Mentors: Miguel Avila, Dr. Kim Buch, Devin Collins, Dreu Dixon, Allison File, Abi Olukeye


Plant Based Utopia, Grand Prize Winner

Caleb Achidi, Belk College of Business

Summary: According to the CDC, cancer rates are expected to increase 49% over the next 30 years. In addition to that, 34.2 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and 6 in 10 Americans have at least one chronic disease. Plant Based Utopia’s solution to this phenomenon is preventive healthcare and nutritional literacy. Plant Based Utopia will spread awareness and capital through meal prep and meal plans, recipe books, and a podcast. The earnings from this will be used to open a Wellness Center for a high need population. Consumers will be able to receive nutritional literacy, mental health support, and more free of cost.

Small Town Culture Shift, Community Impact Winner

Tonia Milam, UNC Charlotte Graduate School

Summary: Wilkes County, NC is a small town in rural North Western North Carolina. The poverty rate in Wilkes County, NC is 15.2% which is nearly 4% higher than the national poverty rate in the country at 11.4%. Residents tend to have a negative mindset, there is a lack of community and there are very few resources for residents to learn more about the county’s history and values. To solve this problem, Tonia plans to provide resources through several outlets. The first solution is to provide a website with information for residents rather than tourism and business focused platforms that are currently available. Another solution is to publish a book about Wilkes County and distribute it to local businesses and government agencies for use in promotions. This book could also be used as a resource for providing an improved community based curriculum in schools within Wilkes County.

​Buddy Up, Campus Impact Winner

Amelia Ho, Belk College of Business

Summary: According to the American College Health Association, of 48,000 college students surveyed, 64% felt very lonely and nearly 12% of participants indicated that they had seriously considered suicide. According to UNC Charlotte’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) as well as the Center for Wellness Promotion, students are struggling with mental health, there is a high demand for individual counseling sessions and both departments are understaffed. Buddy Up would serve as a prevention resource for college students and provide support that CAPS and the Center for Wellness Promotion are unable to implement at this time. Buddy Up is based on a peer-to-peer support system. and would act as a mentorship program made up of a student team that is specifically matched with students seeking support.

Active Discipleship, Crowd Favorite Winner

Deanna Glenn, College of Arts & Architecture

Summary: At UNC Charlotte, there are very little religious accommodations during exercise opportunities. There is a lack of resources for certain populations on campus. Aside from exercise and wellness, a sense of belonging is an important aspect of many college student’s lives. Active Discipleship would provide a physical option for the religious and to include their needs in the campus event schedule. ​

Additional Finalists:


Ryan Shah, Belk College of Business

Summary: Planning and scheduling classes at UNC Charlotte continues to be a difficult and tedious process for UNC Charlotte students. At this time, it is not possible to create a 4-year course plan, import or export information or receive real time reviews of courses on the university provided registration platform. Autoregis would solve this problem by providing an efficient user-friendly platform that enables students to automatically select which courses they would like to take ahead of time, plan when they would like to take each course, receive outside information about each course section and queue registration.

L&R Case

Abram Miller, Lee College of Engineering​

​Summary: In today’s society, there is a noticeable disparity between police officers and civilians. There tends to be great miscommunication during altercations that prove to be dangerous and fatal on many occasions. Currently, there is no designated place for drivers to store their license and registration. This can cause confusion and hostility during even routine stops by police officers. L&R Case is a product that would provide a consistent way for drivers to store and display their license and registration information when requested. By avoiding uncertainty, L&R Case would save the lives of both drivers and police officers.

Recharge Room

Xuan Truong, UNC Charlotte Graduate Student

Summary: Disability affects 25% of the population and 10% of university students have a disability but only 2.3% are registered with Disability Services. According to customer discovery interviews, there is a lack of community among students with disabilities. The campus itself is physically exhausting and there are few opportunities for education around disability. The Recharge Room would solve this problem in a couple of ways. First, this would serve as a space for education and community with disability focused workshops where community can be built. Secondly, the Recharge Room would also serve as a place for students to take care of themselves in a dignified and accessible environment.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Fall 2021 49er Impact Program! Stay tuned for our Spring 2022 events.