Breakfast of Champions

Chickpea oatmeal Chi-Chi takes home top prize at Collegiate Great Brands Competition
Winners of the 2024 Collegiate Great Brands pitch competition stand with their novelty prize checks with the contest's four judges behind them at Studio 225.

If you ask Chiara Munzi and Izzy Gorton, chickpeas have been typecast as a snack or vegetarian lunch staple for too long.

The pair, who met as Washington University in St. Louis business students, want the world to try the protein-packed, drought-tolerant legume for breakfast. Their grain-free, chickpea oatmeal brand, ChiChi, has sold more than $127,000 since 2022 and is poised to continue growing with the $15,000 they won at the 2024 Collegiate Great Brands Competition on March 27.

“First of all, we like the innovation of the idea behind the product,” judge and Consensus Advisors analyst Michelle Israel told Munzi and Gorton. “You had a need and came up with an idea that hadn’t been done before. That’s always exciting to see.”

Chi-Chi’s founders plan to use the prize money to ramp up production of their chickpea flake hot cereal and help promote the product as it moves into the Foxtrot chain of grocery stores in the Chicago area. Up to now, Munzi and Gorton have made most of their sales through an online storefront.

This is the eighth year the University of Georgia Entrepreneurship Program has hosted the national pitch competition, sponsored by Consensus Advisors and restaurant supplier What Chefs Want. Students from seven universities competed in the 2024 competition.

“Everyone did just a great job; we were so energized and excited about everything we saw,” Israel said. “And as someone who has looked at products my entire life, it feels great to see so many good ideas coming at us.”

In addition to Chi-Chi, judges awarded a $7,000 second prize to Manta Systems — a device that automatically feeds frozen food cubes to saltwater aquariums — led by Tamara Marshall, a marine scientist and business grad student from the University of Texas-Dallas. They awarded third place and $3,000 to Ox Sox, the odorless sock company founded by UGA management information systems student Matt Tesvich.  

Other companies represented at the contest include:

  • Atlanta Sneaks, a collectible sneaker dealership founded by UGA marketing student Tyler Boerema.
  • Club Girl Golf, a women’s golf club company founded by golfer and Texas A&M mechanical engineering student Katie Calderon. 
  • Detail Dawgs, an on-demand car detailing company founded by UGA real estate student Jack TerHaar.
  • Owanga, a rechargeable battery pack sales rental business founded by Emory University Law student Benedict Owanga.
  • Protein Pints, an after-workout protein ice cream co-founded by Michigan State University student Paul Reiss. 
  • Snug Scrubs, a fitted scrub brand founded by physician and Babson College MBA student Adila Rammadia. 

In addition to Israel, this year’s judges included multiple entrepreneurs, including the founder of Jackrabbit Technologies, Mark Mahoney (BBA ’83); founder of Bolt Storage, Dan Hagberg; founder of Apptega cybersecurity firm, Armistead Whitney (ABJ ’91); and restauranteur and reality TV personality Shep Rose (BA ’02).