“What is your business idea? What problem will you solve? Who is your target customer?” On April 15, thirteen student entrepreneurs had 45 seconds to answer these questions and convince an audience of Fredericksburg business professionals, business owners, local economic development offices, and UMW faculty/staff that they should vote for their business idea during the Eagle Innovation Business Pitch Competition.
The Eagle Innovation Business Pitch Competition is an annual competition open to all UMW and Germanna students. Three student teams are awarded with seed capital for their startup company or their business idea. This year, the competition was held online. The three winning teams are:
- UMW senior Suzanne Triplett, first place prize of $2,000 for her business idea: Back to Grounds, a mobile café. Suzanne plans to invest in a coffee/espresso and breakfast food mobile café to park at the large commuter lots on I-95.
- UMW ’20 graduates Wes Cantrall, Ethan Dillon and Kyle Ortiz, second place prize of $1,000 for their company Sunnyside Supply Co. Sunnyside Supply Co farms, retails and wholesales a range of CBD and Hemp products.
- UMW junior Page Olsen, third place prize of $500 for her company ImpressedbyPage. Page makes handmade press-on nails and nail decals and sells her products directly to customers and to nail technicians at salons.
For many students, Eagle Innovation inspired them to turn their idea into an actual company. “I have had this little business idea in my mind for so long, and when I heard about Eagle Innovation, it was the motivation I needed to get the ball rolling. I could not have accomplished what I did without the help and support I got from Kelsey and the staff of the UWM Center for Economic Development and the UMW Small Business Development Center.”
This event is a two-round competition: (1) elevator pitches and (2) finalist pitches. In round one, students shared a pre-recorded video of their elevator pitch and then answered questions from the audience. At the end of the round, all guests voted for their favorite ideas. The top five teams with the most votes went into round two of the competition: Finalist Pitches. These pitches were longer and more comprehensive, and a panel of five judges selected the award winners.
The UMW Center for Economic Development supports student entrepreneurs through Eagle Innovation and the StartUpUMW program, a semester-long internship that engages local business owners and professionals to help students develop their own business ideas. Many of the students who participated in the competition also graduated from StartUpUMW.
“I am very proud of the students who participated in the event. They worked really hard in a challenging virtual environment to develop their concepts and perfect their pitches. It’s also amazing to see all of the support from the community. I can’t wait to develop and expand the program,” said Kelsey Whitman, the StartUpUMW and Eagle Innovation Manager.
A special thank you to our 2021 sponsors: REDCO, SimVentions, Stafford County Economic Development Authority, Fredericksburg Regional Alliance, Virginia Partners Bank, Discover Next Step, Matern Staffing, Spotsylvania Economic Development, and Quarles Inc.