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Macomb Community College’s second student pitch competition awards $9,000 to aspiring entrepreneurs

– Wednesday, October 21, 2015 12:00AM

Five finalists chosen from a field of 31 students pitched ideas to an experienced panel of judges
 
Three start-up businesses were awarded a total of $9,000 at the finals of the Macomb Community College Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) second student pitch competition, held Oct. 16 at Macomb’s Center Campus in Clinton Township.

The winners were selected from among five finalists, who were themselves picked from 31 Macomb students who participated in the competition. All of the competitors completed free training to help them learn how to pitch their business concepts to potential investors. A $5,000 first-place prize was donated by First State Bank, which, along with Northwood University, also sponsored the competition.  

The first-place winner was Brittney Feggan of Mount Clemens, a business administration student, who developed a product called Beezy, an easy-access baby garment that uses magnetic fasteners instead of snaps, buttons or zippers.  Feggan said the training she received from the CIE taught her to “think about this as a business” and learn about things like business structure, applying for a patent and creating a relationship with a manufacturer. Feggan plans to apply the prize money toward creating a limited liability company‎ (LLC), applying for a design patent, creating a website, creating prototypes and marketing.

A second place prize of $3,000 was awarded to LaShay Edwards of Chesterfield Township for her business called The C.O.R.E, which seeks to sell customized, classic wardrobe items, such as t-shirts and denim, to primarily women “fashionistas” between the ages of 18 and 25. Edwards, who is studying marketing at Macomb, plans to put her prize money toward developing a website and a logo, setting up an LLC and creating the first batch of The C.O.R.E’s signature t-shirts. She noted that the student pitch competition was “very hands on,” helping her to focus and showing her how to create a successful pitch to the judges.

Third place went to computer science student Yousuf Hussain, one of the founders of The Com.unity Co., located in Imlay City.  Com.unity, which is still in development, is an online platform and mobile app that will reward users for interacting with their local businesses and organizations with coupons and other incentives. Users will get points, for example, for visiting local coffee shops, communicating with people with similar interests and volunteering for nonprofits. Com.unity plans to use the prize money to help pay for intellectual property protection, supplies, marketing and the establishing a beta community.

In addition to winning the $1,000 third prize, Com.unity received the “audience choice” award, a gift basket with prizes from the Twisted Rooster, Turtle Cell and Follett Bookstore, along with gift items from the college.

Pitch competition participants were given three minutes each to present their ideas to a panel of five judges, who ranked each presentation using a set of criteria including the strength of the idea, understanding of the target market and the competition, competitive differentiation, financial viability, plans for how the prize money would be used and the strength of the pitch itself.  The presentations were followed up with five-minute question-and-answer sessions with the judges.

Judges for the competition were:

  • Nicole Farmer, president and CEO of LifeLine Business Consulting Services LLC in Detroit, which specializes in helping women-owned businesses advance their goals.
  • Gene Lovell, president and CEO of First State Bank, based in St. Clair Shores. 
  • Wendy Richardson, a business consultant with the Michigan Small Business Development Center, specializing in market research and assisting companies along their growth path. 
  • Dan Toland, director of community college partnerships at Northwood University
  • Don Morandini, adjunct faculty in business at Macomb Community College.

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, established in the fall of 2014, is a one-stop resource for both students and community members for entrepreneurship education and training, mentorship for startups and existing small business and access to capital. It sponsored the competition to introduce students to the world and process of entrepreneurship. 

“The pitch competition was exciting, but it’s just part of what we do to support student entrepreneurs,” said Derrin Leppek, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Whether they won prize money or not, each of these students will be able to work with our center as a resource for advice, mentorship and entrepreneurial education.” 

For more information about the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, click here or call 586.226.4833 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

About Macomb Community College

Macomb Community College (www.macomb.edu) is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 48,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Media contact: James Melton, 586.445.7271,  meltonj@macomb.edu