A student floral designer with a new coffee shop concept won the top prize at this semester’s Vol Court Pitch Competition. UT undergraduate student Meg Hutchinson pitched Flo+Co., a flower and coffee shop combination, in the semiannual pitch competition and speaker series hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business.
“Flo+Co. focuses on providing high-quality floral arrangements at reasonable prices, coffee beverages, and a warm and welcoming environment,” said Hutchinson, a junior supply chain management major from Franklin, Tennessee.
Hutchinson received $1,500 along with a sponsored prize package that includes free office space in the UT Research Foundation (UTRF) Business Incubator, consulting services courtesy of PYA, legal advice from Morehous Legal Group, design services from Innovative Design Inc., and website services from Make Me Modern.
“This shop is something I’ve worked on endlessly, and I was more than ready to get the word out about my dream,” said Hutchinson. “The money was definitely a plus, but I was mostly excited to share my idea and get feedback.”
Second-place winner Anna Veazey pitched Moto-plow, an idea for an agricultural tool designed to aid famers in developing countries.
“Moto-plow is a piece of farm equipment that can attach to the back of a motorcycle,” said Veazey. “Farmers who usually farm by hand can plant, plow, and transport their crops in half the time.”
Veazey, a junior supply chain management major from Hendersonville, Tennessee, received $1,000 and a sponsored prize package that includes free office space in the UTRF Business Incubator, legal advice from Morehous Legal Group, and design services from Innovative Design Inc.
Third place went to Generative Genetics, founded by Ariel Ritter. The company, originally named Ritter’s Critters, aims to offer solutions for the research of difficult-to-treat diseases by raising awareness of rapidly healing organisms. Generative Genetics breeds axolotls, a species of tiger salamander known for its regenerative ability.
Ritter, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is a junior with dual majors in chemical engineering and biological sciences.
“My business provides an opportunity for unique creatures to be brought into the public eye and help find cures for presently difficult-to-treat illnesses such as cancer,” said Ritter.
Ritter received $500 and a sponsored prize package that includes legal advice from Morehous Legal Group and design services from Innovative Design Inc.
“We heard several interesting business ideas this semester,” said Shawn Carson, Vol Court director. “It’s exciting to see these ideas come from across campus and the interest in entrepreneurship continue to grow.”
The Vol Court Pitch Competition was the final event of the spring 2018 Vol Court Speaker Series. Leading up to the competition, participants attended five entrepreneurial lectures covering topics like opportunity validation and entrepreneurial storytelling.
Vol Court is a free event hosted by the Anderson Center each fall and spring semester. It is open to UT students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the local community. Sponsors for the spring competition include the UT Research Foundation, PYA, Morehous Legal Group, Three Roots Capital, Innovative Design Inc., Make Me Modern, and Hard Knox Pizzeria.