Belmont University’s annual “Shark Tank”-style business pitch competition took place on November 6, at which ten students presented business ideas to a panel of judges. Bailey Jackson, junior finance major, and Nathan Kim, junior music business major, took the first place prize with their idea for SimpleStorage, a business that connects customers with storage services competing to offer the lowest quotes.
The competition was fast-paced and inspiring, and this year had by far some of the toughest competitors. Mollie Montgomery received second place for her pitch of Mollie’s Bread Shop, and James Richard finished in third place with his pitch for Vitamin Honey. Other student entrepreneurs that pitched in the competition are Katie Coens, Elizabeth Kuehne, Ciel Smith, Grace O’Shea, Asher Segelken, Baxter Brown and Jaime Angel.
The competition was judged by Clint Smith, founder of Emma, Arnie Malham, founder of CJ Advertising and one of Belmont’s entrepreneurs-in-residence, Jacqueline Hayes, founder of Crayons and Marketers, and Troy Beeler, one of the top advisors at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center who works with large-scale brands and retailers, including P&G, Coca-Cola, Walmart and others on the future of commerce.
First place winner Bailey Jackson has grown a number of online businesses over the past few years and was trying to come up with his next big idea. He created ideas for three business models in parking, sharing and storage and took them to Dan Hogan, one of Belmont’s entrepreneurs in residence. Hogan loved the storage idea and had Jackson validate his model. Kim was later brought on for marketing and brand development purposes and has worked tirelessly to develop a successful and cohesive marketing strategy.
Senior entrepreneurship major and second place winner Mollie Montgomery was inspired by her late grandfather’s tradition of making sourdough in her pitch for Mollie’s Bread Shop. Montgomery shared, “My dream is to bake bread. That can mean making it for family, selling it to friends or even having a well-known location that people love to come get their loaf fresh every day.”
“Vitamin Honey was the result of seeing my brother with Crohn’s disease change his life through diet. He had trouble eating foods because of what was in them, but one thing I noticed him put on everything was honey. He was still able to eat honey,” explained third place winner and senior entrepreneurship major James Richard.
“At the same time, I was working on a vitamin company for entrepreneurship financial management, and the idea hit to merge the two together to use honey and a delivery method for people to take their vitamins! This gives people endless opportunity to use it. They can apply the honey to food they are eating, take it with them on a run, or give to elderly or differently-abeled children who have trouble taking the pills they need.”
The competition winners commended Belmont for its incredible entrepreneurship program and faculty. Jackson shared, “Belmont has provided me with an immense amount of resources. The courses teach practical information that directly apply to the things I’m doing. Belmont faculty are also extremely helpful and knowledgeable within their field.”
Each of the winners in the competition were awarded a monetary prize for their successful pitch to be used in furthering their business. First place received a check for $500, second place received a check for $200 and third place received a check for $100.
The finalists all greed they were in shock and full of excitement when they heard all of their hardwork preparing their pitches paid off. Montgomery said, “I have always wanted to compete in the business pitch but did not feel like I was ready to present until now. But, I promised myself I would do it senior year and it went better than I ever imagined.”