Savannah State University alumni entrepreneurs pitched their business plans for the chance to win seed money and mentorship at the first-ever Alumni Business Pitch Competition this past November — paving the way for Tiger undergraduates to prep their big ideas for the student competition slated for this spring.
The university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), an extension of SSU’s College of Business Administration (COBA) that seeks to elevate innovation and promote entrepreneurship in the Savannah area, organized the inaugural event. CIE offers a suite of services for the creation of new technology-based ventures and the growth of existing businesses. It partners with both public and private organizations to support the economic development of the region through knowledge sharing, strategic collaboration and job creation for African Americans and underrepresented entrepreneurs and innovators. Eligible competitors were required to participate in at least two CIE workshops on Launching Your Venture and Financing Your Venture. Six alumni progressed to the pitch before a panel of judges including local community professionals from the Savannah Chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives, SEDA, and the Black Chamber of Commerce.Winning the first-place award of $5,000 was Xavius Davis, a business marketing graduate located in Macon and founder of Elite Property Investment Group, which purchases homes in Macon and middle Georgia with a quick and easy buying process called the Elite Way.
Savannah-based MBA graduate Sade Shofidiya earned $2,500 and second place for her BEEnevolent app, which seeks to spread awareness, share better beekeeping practices, and centralize the environmental justice efforts of her nonprofit honeybee charity Foster Beelief. She aims to have a beta version in early 2022
“I’m going to use the prize money for marketing, including attending the American Beekeeping Conference in Las Vegas to network and increase awareness about BEEnevolent,” Shofidiya said.
Natural hair product company Curls on Crack, founded by Jaila Colvin, came in third.
Shofidiya said she’s excited about the university’s support of emerging entrepreneurial efforts on campus. The competition gave SSU the perfect opportunity to showcase successful SSU alumni entrepreneur business ventures that reflect the knowledge gained while at SSU, said Dr. Shetia C. Butler Lamar, assistant professor of computer information systems. The ideas on offer were just a sampling of the wide range of SSU alumni entrepreneurs who operate locally, nationally and internationally in industries such asretail, real estate, health and beauty, manufacturing, consulting, insurance and entertainment. Alumni return to campus often to share both their failures and successes with SSU students to promote awareness and inspire continuous entrepreneurial spirit at SSU, Lamar said.
“The competitors’ ability to pitch their business and ideas in a professional manner sheds light on the entrepreneurial potential not only evident in our SSU alumni entrepreneurs but also our up and coming student entrepreneurs,” she said. “This display of professional ability has the potential to enhance student entrepreneurs’ confidence propelling them into future successful business ventures.”
For the student competition, SCORE will facilitate several campus workshops to prepare students to pitch. Competitors can be current SSU undergraduate or graduate students from any program, and SSU will host an elimination round before moving the final three or four competitors to the pitch competition in April.