UL student entrepreneurs participate in business pitch competition

University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration and BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) — which provides services to innovative startups and works to stimulate entrepreneurship opportunities in North Louisiana — have partnered again in 2021 to help prepare students for entrepreneurship with the Moody Business Pitch Competition. This competition was also sponsored by Opportunity Machine, located in Lafayette.

Five finalists competed for $4,500 in cash prizes during an online business pitch event held by the University and EAP. To prepare for the final event, student competitors first participated in a speed consulting and business development workshop online last month. They then submitted pitch presentations for evaluation to determine the top five finalists who would be eligible to compete for prize money.

The top cash prize of $3,000 was awarded to Kurstin Laceky, a senior at UL Lafayette majoring in finance, for her business idea, Waterhem’s. Lackey’s winning idea is for a patent-pending, all-in-one portable urban chicken feeder system.

“The Moody Pitch Competition has helped me take this project further than I ever thought I would,” said Laceky. “I’m excited to connect with people and share my passion for agriculture with those who have a similar passion.”

Shelby Stewart, an MBA candidate, won second place and a cash prize of $1,000 for Tots & Tailgates, LLC, her idea for a safe and portable truck bed playpen for toddlers. The third place winner, Darcy Fabre, was awarded $500 for Precious
Human, a DIY textile production company using local Acadian Brown Cotton. Fabre is an MBA candidate with a concentration in Project Management.

The top three winners also won professional services from EAP for six months. All top five finalists will receive scholarships to the Louisiana Startup Prize to compete for a $25,000 grand prize, as well as one year of membership to the Opportunity Machine.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs make up 55% of all the businesses in Louisiana,” said Dave Smith, Executive Director of EAP. “We at EAP want to support students and young entrepreneurs so they have the knowledge to really be successful when they launch a business.”

“What I love about these competitions is the opportunity they provide students to show us what they really know,” said Dr. Brian Bolton, Professor and Dwight W. Andrus, Jr./BORSF Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Finance at UL Lafayette’s Moody College of Business. “It’s so amazing for us as faculty to see students take 20% of what we teach and build this amazing new innovation. It’s what we hope the education process is about. It’s inspiring and we love being a part of it.”

“I think some of our finalists may have realized that maybe this is what they’re going to start focusing on for their career,” said Dr. Valerie McGehee, Instructor of Marketing and Interim Director of the Northwestern Mutual Sales and Research Lab at UL Lafayette’s B. I. Moody III College of Business Administration. “For them to have realized that throughout this competition, I think we have done our job as educators to help them out as much as we can, to help them focus onto a path that could be a reality.”

“I was impressed with the quality of the presentations we saw from our student competitors,” said John F. George Jr., M.D., President and CEO, BRF. “These students will face problems as entrepreneurs and this competition prepares them to solve those problems. That’s what this competition is all about and I’m excited to see where we go next year.”

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