Belmont University’s Thomas F. Cone Sr. Center for Entrepreneurship recently launched The Buntin Initiative — a new program implementation funded by the Buntin Family featuring a series of workshops culminating in a spring business pitch competition. Seven students showcased their creative business ideas and competed in the inaugural Buntin Initiative Competition on April 12. The competition provided students the opportunity to network with the Buntin family, present their ideas and receive feedback from a panel of judges for the chance to win cash awards.
“The Jeffrey Buntin Sr. Award for Creative Ventures provides us an amazing new opportunity to support our creative and entrepreneurially minded students,” Executive Director of the Cone Center Elizabeth Gortmaker said. “At this year’s competition, we had students from seven different majors pitching their business ideas. We were thrilled to be able to support students from all across campus with this new initiative, and we are so grateful for the support of the Buntin family to make it happen.”
Abby Kay Griffith (Music Therapy ’26) pitched a business concept for a music therapy app that helps disrupt destructive listening patterns, winning the first-place award of $2,500. Griffith has been working with professors in her major to explore research related to the idea.
Delaney Kelly (Experiential Design ’26) received the second-place award of $1,500 for delanely.design, a design business that helps small businesses with graphic design, web development, social media marketing and other growth tools.
Hamilton Nichols (Design Communications ‘W23) presented the athleisure fashion brand Butterbear and earned the third-place award of $500.
Additional student participants included Kayla Kirkland (Entrepreneurship ’25), Alisa Brown (Creative & Entertainment Industries ’23), Baxter Brown (Computer Science ’24) and Hannah Novakovich (Entrepreneurship ‘W23). All students receive one-on-one mentoring with an Entrepreneur-in-residence leading up to the competition.
The Buntin Program provides resources for student entrepreneurs launching creative ideas. This spring semester, the Buntin Initiative sponsored a workshop led by Kristin Sweeting, Entrepreneur-in-Residence and founder of Kristin Sweeting Photography and Danger School, and a talk about starting a business in a creative industry by Sarah Moseley, founder of Songbird City. The following events were also sponsored during the fall semester:
- Turning your Passion into Sustainable Income – Kristin Sweeting
- Eco-Architect and Owner of Maypop Building – Betsy Littrell
- Design-Thinking Workshop led by Mitch Baron, Cone Center Project Coordinator
The Buntin Initiative and Buntin Initiative Competition add to the Cone Center’s extensive catalog of programs and resources that continue to support student entrepreneurs across campus. On-campus partners for the Buntin Initiative include the Curb College of Music Business, the O’More School of Architecture and Design, and the Watkins College of Art.