Stetson Entrepreneurship Students Win $33,500 at Pitch Competitions

Student is holding a diagram and talking to panel of judges
The Stetson students included, front row, left to right, Jasmine Allen, Matthew San Julian, Nicole Notel and Chelsea Hage; and back row, Wyatt Peck and Bryson Pritchard, and faculty members William Jackson and Lou Paris.

Stetson University students won $33,500 at two different student entrepreneur pitch competitions held this past weekend. The dizzying feat began when four students swept the 2019 Cairns Foundation Innovation Challenge held at the Advanced Technology Center in Daytona Beach.

The whirlwind continued the next day as six Stetson students flew to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference. Sophomore Bryson Pritchard seized first place in both competitions.

William Jackson, Stetson University
William Jackson

“I have never been as proud of my students in my 30-plus-year career,” said William Jackson, D.B.A., professor of entrepreneurship and director of Stetson’s Prince Entrepreneurship Program.  “The students showed such tremendous improvement over the past year and came together as a team to support Bryson as he moved through each stage of the competition. They demonstrated pride in Stetson and embodied the institution and its core values.”

At the close of the weekend, Pritchard of Ormond Beach walked away with $12,000 in total cash winnings as well as a one-year resident enrollment in the UCF Volusia County Business Incubator, valued at another $10,000. Pritchard’s idea, a medical device to help mitigate bloodstream infection rates, is recognized for its potential to improve safety and efficiency.

The Cairns Foundation Innovation Challenge gives students enrolled in higher education in Volusia County an opportunity to present an entrepreneurial project idea to a panel of judges. In addition to Stetson University, students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College participated in the pitch competition.

Student is holding a diagram and talking to panel of judges
Stetson sophomore Bryson Pritchard delivered his winning pitch at the Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference at the University of Tennessee.

“I’m so grateful to have represented Stetson at these competitions,” Pritchard said. “This experience has helped mold me into the entrepreneur and student I am.  My winnings are going to be used to further develop my idea, hopefully to a stage where it can start making a difference in patient outcomes.” 

Kailee Howe, a sophomore at Stetson University, took second place in the competition winning $5,000 plus one-year pre-enrollment support in the Incubator, valued at another $5,000. In the tabletop portion of the competition, Matthew San Julian, a senior, took home first place and $1,000, while junior Nicole Notel won $500 with a second-place finish.

Hosted by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference at the University of Tennessee gives students an opportunity to pitch their marketable business ideas and compete for prizes.

In total, six Stetson University students participated in the competition, including Jasmine Allen, Wyatt Peck, San Julian and Notel, with Pritchard and Howe progressing to the final round of the competition. Participants were tasked with identifying a significant problem shared by a large number of people, offering a unique and executable solution to the problem with a high potential for financial success, and delivering a stellar presentation of the idea.

Lou Paris

“Total student winnings of $33,500—I’d say it was a good weekend,” said Lou Paris, assistant director of the Prince Entrepreneurship Program. “These winnings will allow our students to accelerate their efforts in bringing their ideas to market. This was the second year in a row we swept the Innovation Challenge in Daytona bringing a lot of recognition to the quality education Stetson students are receiving.”

The Stetson participants were led by Jackson and Paris in the School of Business Administration.

-Marie Dinklage