ECU student entrepreneurs win $75K in funding, prizes
The second, three-round Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge concluded Feb. 21 with student-team Vybe taking first place and a cash prize of $15,000.
Vybe is an application that allows users to track how busy nightclubs are at any time. It is owned and operated by East Carolina University juniors Camden Bathras, a supply chain management major, and Steven Lipscomb, a marketing and entrepreneurship major. When asked about what they plan to do with their prize money, Bathras and Lipscomb said they want to focus on developing their software first. Then, they’ll move on to marketing.
“We want to start a pilot test here in Greenville and based on those results, we’ll develop marketing campaigns that will expand Vybe in North Carolina schools and then South Carolina,” said Bathras.
SweetSip won second place and $10,000. Tailgate Classics came in third place and took $5,000. Health4Pine took fourth place and a check for $1,000.
The competition kicked off in October with almost 100 teams participating in the first round. Seven teams competed in the finals.
More than $75,000 in cash and prizes were awarded to teams who placed in the competition, and according to MSOE officials, this year’s prize winnings makes the challenge the richest entrepreneurship pitch competition in North Carolina.
According to Dr. Mike Harris, director of the Miller School of Entrepreneurship (MSOE), all winners are required to reach pre-approved milestones to obtain all funding. In addition to the cash prizes, the MSOE will connect all winners with a network of entrepreneurial resources in eastern North Carolina.
“One goal for this year’s challenge was to bring a more diverse field that represented both east and west campuses,” said Harris referring to ECU’s main campus and health sciences campus. “I’m proud to say the 2019 finalists exceeded our expectations.”
Now in its second year, the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge is the signature pitch competition of ECU’s College of Business and its MSOE. More than 150 student teams have competed since the challenge started in 2017. More than 4,500 ECU students have voted in the first two challenges, and this year’s student teams represented 40 departments from 10 colleges.
A panel of entrepreneurs and ECU alumni chose the winners. The judges were:
- Player Barefoot, owner, SouthTech Orthopedics
- Matt Crisp, founder & principal, eVestment
- Van Isley, CEO, Professional Builders Supply
- Julie Wall, senior vice president, First Citizens Bank
For the first time this year, the challenge included sponsors who will provide in-kind services to the winners. Those sponsors included:
- Albea Law
- Coffman’s Mens Wear
- Greenville Seed
- Jenkins, Wilson, Taylor, and Hunt
- Kellum and Campbell
- Pitt County Development Commission
- Red Shark Digital
- Uptown Greenville
The College of Business, which is represented by the winning team, was awarded the Challenge Cannon trophy to display in the college until next year’s challenge.
“At the Miller School of Entrepreneurship, our goal is to up the ante every year we hold the challenge; we want to bring something new to every competition, and tonight’s event already has us motivated for the third challenge,” said Harris.
For more information about the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, click here.