Last week I sat down with Dr. Nicole Cannonier to discuss Savannah State University’s (SSU) upcoming pitch competition for students. Dr. Cannonier, who is an Associate Professor of Management and the BUSA & MBA Coordinator for the College of Business Administration at SSU is leading the initiative along with Dr. Shetia Butler-Lamar.
Last fall SSU has hosted Alumni Pitch Competitions, which Dr. Cannonier describes as a huge point of pride for the university. The SSU Business Pitch Competition for current students returns in 2022 with an April event showcasing finalists who have spent several months preparing. This year’s competition offers a new element: each pitch contestant receives mentorship from local entrepreneurs and business experts. With guidance and support, students will be able to experience the steps of starting a business, pitching in front of an audience, and competing for seed money. To accomplish this, SSU has partnered with Savannah’s SCORE chapter to build a mentorship roster from talented SCORE volunteers. They include…
- Valerie Reynold – SCORE Team lead and workshop leader
- Amy Shippy – Workshop Leader
- Michelle Stenson – Workshop Leader
- Kewaan Drayton – Workshop Facilitator, Mentor
- Gia Boulous – Workshop Facilitator, Mentor
- Jessica Belfry – Workshop Facilitator, Mentor
- Bob Meng – Pitch Competition Judge
- Stephen Friedman – Mentor
- Ned Duffy – Mentor
Together, SSU staff and SCORE volunteers determined which students to select for the finals. They filtered the applications based on a number of criteria, including how far along the students’ ideas were, where their businesses were heading, and what problems or needs their businesses solved or filled. After careful consideration, they narrowed student applications down to six final contestants for the pitch competition:
- Natalie Snead, a Sophomore majoring in Business Management and CEO of Esined Maquillage
- Freddie Milons, a Junior majoring in Computer Science and CEO of 3L3M3NT Pieces
- Foday Tarawally, a Senior majoring in Accounting and Lead Consultant at Tarawally Consulting Group
- Chenijah George-Dawson, a Junior majoring in Business Management and CEO of Mandala Charters
- Jamaal Roland, a Sophomore majoring in Business Management and Co-owner of Overlooked and Underrated
- Jordan Sampson, a Sophomore majoring in Computer Information & Logistics Systems and CEO of Sampson Media Management & Consultation
Over the past two months, the finalists have been developing their business plans and practicing their pitches with the guidance and encouragement of SCORE volunteers.The goal behind integrating mentorship within the competition is to help the students prepare for the day of the competition by instilling best practices and techniques from experienced business owners and executives who have been in high-stakes situations before. When the students hit the stage in April, they will be well prepared to represent their businesses with all the knowledge and confidence they have received through the program.
During the competition pitch, contestants will each have roughly four minutes to pitch, followed by four to five minutes for questions with the judges, and finally a minute to wrap up their presentation.
The judges will be scoring them based on what sets them apart from other growing companies, the way they present themselves and communicate their pitch, and what solutions or gaps their business fixes or fills.
At the end, the top three pitches will be selected and awarded $1,500 each in seed money from SSU’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).
The competition will take place on SSU’s campus on April 4th, 2022 at 5pm and will be open to the public! SSU encourages locals to attend. Virtual viewing options may be provided later.
For more information about the competition, the mentors, or the contestants, contact Dr. Nicole Cannonier at [email protected].