Since launching her shipping-label business Thryft Ship in March 2021, Valeria Brenner has sold more than $560,000 in labels and helped 80,000 packages get to happy customers.
Her business model is working, Brenner told judges at the UGA Entrepreneurship Program’s Venture Prize Competition but needs to launch premium subscription features to get to the next level. Her prior success and plans for expansion won her the $10,000 first prize at this year’s contest, held on Feb. 16 at Studio 225.
“So, we collectively felt like you were solving an actual pain point,” contest judge Ashley Staggs told Brenner. “Particularly because the companies you’re serving are not big enough to play in some spaces. It sounds like you know your customer, and you know how to increase your revenue as you move forward.”
Staggs, who serves as senior director of content marketing and operations for Floor & Décor, was at the contest in part to represent the pitch contest’s benefactor. Atlanta-based hard flooring retail chain Floor and Décor sponsors the competition, featuring one of the biggest prizes in the UGA pitch contest ecosystem. The company sponsored the first contest in 2022.
This year 14 student-led businesses pitched for the chance to win $10,000.
Brenner, who is majoring in marketing and international business, launched Thryft Ship after participating in a UGA Entrepreneurship Idea Accelerator. She has continued to develop her business, hone her pitch skills and win pitch contests around the Southeast, most recently this December at the Serving the South Business Model Competition at the University of Mississippi.
Several UGA Entrepreneurship Program alumni companies competed in this year’s Venture Prize contest.
Second-place winner Ox Sox, an odor-fighting sock company founded by management information systems student Matt Tesvich, took home $5,000 to help continue growing his company. Since going through the Idea Accelerator program Ox Sox was featured in national media outlets, and Tesvich made more than $50,000 in sock sales.
F&T Results, a real estate data security company founded by recent 2022 real estate and economics graduate Alex Fahsel, won $2,500 and third place. The company aims to help landlords crack down on rental fraud by scanning the internet for fraudulent listings for their properties.
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 community members.