From software for reporting sustainability metrics to makeup that can stand up to a day in the gym — students from Southeastern Conference universities are creating business ideas to shape the future.
On Oct. 23, student entrepreneurs from 14 SEC schools will gather at the Truist Pitch Deck in Studio 225 as the University of Georgia hosts the annual SEC Student Pitch Competition. Each student team will pitch their business to a panel of judges for the chance to walk away with $5,000 for 1st place, $3,000 for second place or $1,000 for third place.
“It’s always good to get all the students together from the different universities so they can exchange ideas and see what other students are working on across the country,” said Bob Pinckney, the Milton Anthony (Tony) Greene Director of Entrepreneurship at UGA, which hosts this year’s event. “It’s also an opportunity for the various entrepreneurship center directors to get together, share ideas and work toward making all of our programs better.”
On pitch day, student teams will break into two groups of seven and pitch to two panels of judges nominated by the participating schools. Judges will score the presentations and the top three teams will pitch one final time that evening. The final pitches and awards reception will be held in Studio 225, at 5:30 p.m. ET, and are open to the public.
Each year a different SEC school hosts the contest. Louisiana State University hosted the 2022 contest. UGA was slated to host the contest in 2020 but the competition was moved online that year due to COVID.
The 2023 contest marks the first time UGA has hosted this event since opening the Studio 225 student entrepreneurship center.
The SEC Student Pitch Competition was started by the provosts of the SEC Universities in 2015 and has continued every year since. Pinckney is excited to celebrate how far UGA and the SEC student entrepreneurship programs have come.
“We’re all kind of in the same boat in the Southeast,” Pinckney said. “I mean, none of us have been doing entrepreneurship programs for that long … It’s something as a region we’ve been working on, and we’ve all been trying to make entrepreneurship a more prominent part of our schools. Every SEC university has an entrepreneurship program now or an entrepreneurship center. Many schools have developed alumni angel networks that support their student entrepreneurs. It’s become a mainstream, important part of what we do at SEC universities and everyone’s doing a great job.”
The competition provides teams of SEC students at the undergraduate or graduate level a platform to showcase their ideas for ground-breaking products and services to a panel of judges — including SEC alumni — who are successful entrepreneurs and have built businesses that contribute daily to the region’s economic development.
The mission of the UGA Entrepreneurship Program is to help develop the mindset of future entrepreneurs and prepare students for business leadership roles.