49er Impact Pitch Awards: Over $5,000 in Cash & Prizes to Student Winners

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Sixteen submissions, with six colleges represented, Ventureprise, UNC Charlotte’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, concluded the Fall 2022 semester with their 49er Impact Pitch. Over $5,000 in cash & prizes was awarded to the top six student pitches.

49er Impact is the Center’s semester pitch competition, open to all students across campus and was designed to encourage students to discuss their ideas while working on their problem-solving and creative-thinking skills. This semester, categories included 49er Foundry, Business Idea and Social Impact. Prizes were also awarded to the top Graduate and Undergraduate submissions. “This semester was a wide variety of ideas and students came to us through our credentialing program, our 49er Foundry and class projects from many colleges. Our team and judges were impressed with the work these students put into their pitch and we look forward to working with them on continuing the innovative process,” noted Laura Smailes, Assistant Director of Ventureprise.

For this Fall semester, the pitches were inspired by personal connections for these students. In the 49er Foundry category, all awardees highlighted the importance of the work they were doing this semester in the student idea incubator. Winner Caleb Achidi, Senior in the Belk College of Business, is focusing on Wholelisticly, which was inspired by his Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and desire to teach others how to live a holistic lifestyle. Achidi expands on his experience since his first competition, “My experience with the 49er Foundry has been amazing. I started in the fall semester of 2021 competing in the Venturepise Impact Competition, where we met weekly with Laura to go over our ideas. This year in preparation for our pitch competition we heard from several entrepreneurs, who mentored us on how to pitch our ideas. This semester I had the pleasure of touring the 49er Foundry with Laura and Carrie. I am looking forward to working in the Foundry next semester to expand on my business plan.”

Other awardees in the 49er Foundry category are Mackay Burke, who is working on a platform to utilize materials that are not able to be recycled and Davion Moore, who launched a real estate business that focuses on giving back to the community.

Zachary Pignon, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Senior and Overall 49er Impact Winner identified an issue as a medic in the military. While on deployment, he experienced how difficult it is to control bleeding in certain areas on the body and through his participation in CLAS 3000, Ideas to Action, he worked on his idea, Universal Junctional Bandage, “The class was really helpful in starting the process into the idea I had. It gave me direction on what I should be really thinking about in my pitch, what to look for in customer research, and comparing my ideas to similar solutions that are already out there.”

Christopher Grisset, Best Business Idea Winner and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Senior, has already launched Muze, which elevates social media presence for creatives. He will graduate this year as he continues to work on the platform and participate in Ventureprise programming.

Mia Huffman, a sophomore in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences focusing on criminology and sociology, was awarded the Social Impact Award for her work on getting traditional housing for the those in reentry programs. She has identified her next steps as more research into grant funding and identifying strategic partners.

Graduate Winner Dujeray Gaines, Belk College of Business, participated in the Entrepreneurial Thinking Micro-Credential Program and worked on her idea to launch a student led organization focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation. “The Ventureprise pitch competition gave me a great deal of insight into how to build a framework, tone, and execution of the pitching process. The additional feedback at the end was super helpful as well and allows me to continue to craft an even greater pitch.” Charlotte Venture Student Collective has been launched and will be begin working on campus and throughout the Charlotte area to prepare Charlotte’s future leaders to run the race of entrepreneurship.

Undergraduate winner, Miya Mosely, pitched an idea that made many take notice, especially as students are getting “back to normal” with the Fall 2023 being the first semester back full time and in-person. Her idea, Vent, an intentional mental detoxing space that will host themed events, team building activities and peer-to-peer interaction.

For Carrie Bovill, Entrepreneurship Program Specialist for the Innovation and Entrepreurship Center, this was her inaugural 49er Impact. While introducing the winners, Bovill stated, “The greatest reward for the work I do with Ventureprise is witnessing how creative and innovative students become when they are rewarded with space, opportunity, and resources for their creativity. These sixteen students blossomed into productive problem solvers with great intuition concerning their ideas. Congratulations to all the students that participated.”

Ventureprise will continue to assist students in making their impact and host a Spring 2023 Pitch Competition, awarding over $10,000 in cash and prizes. Many events, workshops, panels and mentors available leading up to the pitch throughout the semester. Check out the Student Impact and Innovation Page for more information on events and your chance to win cash for your ideas.

For more information on the winners and their pitches, check out the 49er Impact Pitch page.