UGA’s SWAKE takes home first prize in SEC Pitch Competition

Vanessa Sachs represents the UGA Entrepreneurship Program with her pitch for sweatproof cosmetics
UGA Entrepreneurship director Bob Pinckney and Assistant Director Jim Flannery congratulate Vanessa Sachs.

In the six months since University of Georgia graduate student Vanessa Sachs launched her sweat-friendly makeup line, she’s sold more than $45,000 in product.

The meteoric rise of her foundation and personal care line has her poised to dominate the sweatproof makeup line and recently helped her win the 2022 SEC Student Pitch Competition.

Sachs, CEO and founder of SWAKE Cosmetics, took first prize in the annual conference competition hosted at Louisiana State University’s E. J. Ourso College of Business.

“I feel like this is a dream,” Sachs said. “It feels good to know your hard work pays off and that someone sees you for that. To come out, perform well, and show what I can do with the company and UGA is really nice.”

The seventh annual competition, held Oct. 2-3, pitted students representing entrepreneurship programs at several SEC universities for a chance to win the $5,000 first prize.

Sachs, a master’s student in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ applied consumer analytics program, has perfected her formula and marketing plans for SWAKE since 2021. In 2022, she started selling her products online — using social media and athlete sponsorships to reach her core audience — people who like to sweat.

She continuously refined her business idea with the help of the UGA Entrepreneurship faculty — participating in the UGA Entrepreneurship Program’s Idea Accelerator, the Build/Test Accelerator and the Summer Launch Program.

“I’m excited for Vanessa and what she has accomplished with this company, as she’s just an outstanding presenter with a very solid product,” said Bob Pinckney, the Milton Anthony (Tony) Greene Director of Entrepreneurship at UGA.

Joining SWAKE were student startups from 11 SEC schools. University of Alabama’s Brian Henderson of Tuska Brew Solutions won second place and $3,000, while University of Tennessee’s Brian Henderson of augmented reality startup D3D LLC took home third place and $1,000.

“The competition this year was just fantastic, and I know the judges had a tough time just selecting the top three,” Pinckney said. “It’s fun to get all the students together from other SEC universities to see what they are doing.”

Established in 2015, the SEC Student Pitch 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 work primarily in the business sector.

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.