Antigua Threads takes first prize in latest Idea Accelerator Mer

Handmade belts and dietary supplements round out the winners’ list from the fall semester Idea Accelerator contests
Kelsie Pearson, Moss Davis and Mbeng Juvis pose after pitching at the UGA Idea Acclerator. Davis, in the middle, holds large prize check.

There’s nothing wrong with a white shirt and khakis, but what if you could turn it up a little? 

That’s the argument behind Antigua Threads, a handmade belt and bag company co-founded by a University of Georgia public relations student. 

“What if the dullest part of your outfit could become the most unique, vibrant and interesting,” Moss Davis asked judges at the UGA Entrepreneurship Program’s Fall Idea Accelerator Pitch Contest on Nov. 15. 

Davis founded the belt company with friends about a year ago, and they’ve sold $16,500 worth of belts and bags. The momentum of their growth and upcoming wholesale deals at Sid Mashburn men’s shops and Epiphany boutique in Athens impressed pitch contest judges. Antigua Threads will use the money to fund a social media marketing campaign, Davis said.

Antigua Threads belts — each unique and signed by the artisan — are made by weavers and leather workers in one of two shops in Guatemala, Davis told the judges. This direct connection to the artisans allows the company to pay them twice the area’s average wage. 

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, but we do have a beautiful, high-quality product that people want to buy,” Davis said. 

In addition to Antigua Threads, the UGA Idea Accelerator judges recognized UGA physics doctoral candidate Juvis Mbeng’s tutoring app for students in his native Cameroon — ProGuide — with second place. Sisterhood of the Traveling 20s, a peer-led travel service for young women created by UGA journalism student Kelsie Pearson, took third place. 

The UGA Idea Accelerator is a four-week, intensive business workshop pairing UGA student startups with entrepreneurs who coach them in customer discovery, financial literacy and investor readiness. The program has granted more than $92,500 in startup funding and helped almost 1,000 budding entrepreneurs refine their business ideas.

While dozens of student startups started the Idea Accelerator process during the two cohorts hosted by the UGA Entrepreneurship Program this fall, only a handful pitch in front of judges. 

Alfia’s Leaf, an herbal supplement company founded by UGA ecology student Amaryah Lockett, won first place at this semester’s first Idea Accelerator on Oct. 11.  The mission of the UGA Entrepreneurship Program is to help develop the mindset of future entrepreneurs and prepare students for business leadership roles. UGA Entrepreneurship Program accelerators are open to UGA students and Athens commu