On Monday, April 4th, a select group of Savannah State University (SSU) undergraduate students competed in the Tiger’s Den Business Pitch Competition at the Mary C. Torian Auditorium within the Howard Jordan Building. The six entrepreneurs pitched their business plans to a panel of judges with the ultimate goal of winning a total of $4,500 in seed money from SSU’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).
Leading up to the event, SSU partnered with Savannah’s SCORE chapter in order to provide expert guidance for each student participant. Beginning in February, the students spent several weeks working closely with an assigned SCORE Mentor or entrepreneurial advisor to craft and improve their pitches. The Tiger’s Den Business Pitch Competition was the culmination of that work.
Three judges presided over the competition: Founder and CEO of Distinct Tax Consulting, Alysha Harvey, SCORE Mentor Bob Meng, and President of the Greater Savannah Black Chamber of Commerce, Moncello Stewart. Judges assessed each presenter on several criteria, including presentation and communication, overall business plan, and competitive advantage. During the competition, each student had four minutes to pitch followed by five minutes of Q&A with judges.
Three students won $1,500 each for their pitches. Jordan Sampson, a Sophomore majoring in Computer Information & Logistics Systems, won first place for her presentation. Sampson is the CEO of Sampson Media Management & Consultation, a company that specializes in social media management for small companies looking to attract more customers. In her pitch, Sampson outlined the established success of her business, her specific monetary goals, and how seed money would help her consulting business continue to grow. Sampson’s pitch mentor leading up to the event was Amy Shippy, Business Consultant at Lady BizWiz.
Chenijah George-Dawson, a Junior majoring in Business Management and CEO of Mandala Adventures, was awarded second place for her pitch. George-Dawson’s business plan includes customizable charter tours and aquatic adventures in the Virgin Islands. During her pitch, George-Dawson showcased how seed money would help Mandala Adventures with the purchase of its first charter boat. George-Dawson’s pitch advisor was SCORE Mentor Ned Duffy.
Third place in the competition was awarded to Natalie Snead, a Sophomore majoring in Business Management, for the expansion of her company, Esined Maquillage. Snead’s makeup line specializes in a variety of cosmetic products for darker skin tones. During her pitch, Snead provided swatches of her makeup and expressed how seed money would help her manufacture new products and expand the Esined Maquillage line. Leading up to the event, Snead received guidance from SCORE Mentor Jessica Belfry.
A fourth contestant, Foday Tarawally, won the Audience Choice Award based on accumulated CashApp donations from audience members. A senior in Accounting at SSU, Tarawally is the Lead Consultant at Tarawally Consulting Group, a boutique consulting firm for minority-owned and operated Food & Beverage businesses. Tallaway was paired with SCORE Mentor Stephen S. Friedman to help advise his business plan.
Contestants Jamaal Roland and Freddie Milons also participated in the pitch competition. Roland is a sophomore in Business Management at SSU and co-owner of Overlooked and Underrated, a clothing brand that works to support underrepresented athletes. Milons is a junior studying Computer Science and works as CEO of 3L3M3NT Pieces, a brand that specializes in branded clothing. Both Roland and Milons were advised by SCORE Mentor Gia Boulos. At the end of the evening, all six contestants were awarded a certificate acknowledging their hard work and skill.
About Savannah State University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship:
The mission of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is to assist and support in establishing an entrepreneurship ecosystem to encourage the development of new ventures. The CIE is a catalyst for growth of entrepreneurial innovation through field-based experiential learning and aligning university priorities with economic development strategies for industry and community partners.
Learn more about the program’s mission, vision, personnel, and 12 primary areas of focus by visiting https://www.savannahstate.edu/coba/cie/index.shtml.