Eight teams went head-to-head in the fall 2013 Vol Court pitch competition recently with the first place team receiving $1,000 to move its business forward, space at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) business incubator, consulting services from Pershing Yoakley and Associates, legal services from the Morehous Legal Group, and mentoring from the College of Business Administration’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) and Launch Tennessee —a prize package worth more than $5,000. The second place team will win $500, space in the UTRF business incubator, legal services from the Morehous Legal Group, and mentoring from ACEI and Launch Tennessee.
First place went to Style with Benefits. Looking for a way to combine a for-profit business with social consciousness, Chelsea Padgham, a senior at UT majoring in Economics created Style with Benefits, an on-line retailer that purchases products from the artizens in developing countries and contributes a portion of the profits to smaller, often overlooked, social cause organizations in the region. “People want products that support good causes”, says Padgham, “my business model helps the artizens in developing countries and social cause organizations here at home.” Padgham acknowledges that similar businesses exists but feels that she can effectively compete by incorporating “Karma Points” that reward customers by allowing them to earn points that can be redeemed for future products with each purchase. More information can be found at www.stylewithbenefits.org.
Second place went to on-line retailer, The Gifter’s Market, founded by Emily Skaar, a senior at UT majoring in Logistics. “I believe we all want to give unique gifts to the special people in our lives”, Skaar said, “by searching out unique craft items at national craft shows and out-of-the-way businesses The Gifter’s Market can offer truly different gifts for our customers.” Skaar intends to differentiate the business, not only with unusual gifts but also by developing interactive relationships with customers. She intends to send out reminders for birthdays, anniversaries or other important dates that customers place in their personal profile on the site.
Vol Court is a speaker series and pitch competition presented by the College of Business Administration’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and sponsored by UT Federal Credit Union, UT Research Foundation, Morehous Legal Group PLLC, Pershing Yoakley & Associates and Launch Tennessee. The goal of the program is to help people develop new business ideas and gain entrepreneurial skills. Speakers include entrepreneurs, investors, and subject matter experts who address how to evaluate a business opportunity, how to make money, and how to pitch the idea to potential investors.
Vol Court is offered every fall and spring semester and is open to students, faculty and the general public.