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Golden Idea Pitch Competition Sees Impressive Number of Submissions

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 14:00pm | By: Bailey Harris

Students holding their winning checksThe Golden Idea Pitch Competition hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Business and Economic Development culminated with a live finale on Thursday, Nov. 11.

The competition began with 44 submissions involving 76 students who represented every college on campus and more than 20 degree programs. After three rounds of difficult deliberation and elimination, the top 10 finalists were selected to pitch their unique idea in person at the finale, hosted on the Hattiesburg campus.

The first-place concept was presented by Yeseul Bae, a freshman biological sciences major from Busan, South Korea. Yeseul’s idea proposed a marketplace for matching potential volunteers with those who need specific assistance. Her proposal was inspired by personal experiences as a first-year international student, including a lengthy trek across town once to visit a bank. The first-place winner walked away with the $1,000 cash prize.

Kamsi Ben-Chiobi, a senior computer engineering major from Nigeria, took second place and a $500 cash prize. Kamsi proposed a solution to help fill a perceived gap in campus safety. His solution, a mobile app, would provide the campus community with a means to discreetly contact and be traced by Campus Police in an emergency situation.

Third place and a $250 cash prize were awarded to Quinn Gordon, a senior marketing major from Brandon, Miss. Quinn’s proposal, dubbed her “passion project,” would establish a home health care company designed to extend the best service to those who are often unable to afford it due to insurance limitations.

The annual Golden Idea Pitch Competition provides a platform for budding entrepreneurs to get professional feedback on their big idea before pitching it to a panel of expert judges while competing for more than $2,000 in total cash prizes. Open to students of all majors, the competition is hosted each November during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

“We took a different approach to the competition this year,” said James Wilcox, Director of the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education. “The past two years have shown us that while there is a huge need for this student showcase, we needed to break down the typical ‘barriers to entry’ across campus. We doubled down on the concept that this is an idea competition–not a business competition. So, no business plans. No financials. Instead, students were encouraged to find a problem, to identify the people affected by it, and to pitch a potential solution. Business models can come later.”

The competition consisted of 4 rounds, including written submissions, one-on-one interviews with faculty, video pitches, and the live finale. For the final round, the top 10 teams each had three minutes to pitch their idea followed by Q&A from the judges.

“In only its third year, the Golden Idea Pitch Competition has become a ‘must see’ event for the campus and Pine Belt community,” said Dr. Bret Becton, Dean of the College of Business and Economic Development. “I am proud of the efforts the business school has made to enhance the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and all of the students did an amazing job of pitching their ideas.”

The competition was sponsored by the College of Business and Economic Development and the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education.

Congratulations to all who made it to the final round:

Yeseul Bae: Freshman, Biological Sciences

Kamsi Ben-Chiobi: Senior, Computer Engineering

Jacoby Broadnax: Sophomore, Information Technology

Ronald Collins, Jr.: MBA candidate

Javier Ferrer, John Michael Travers, Cameron Lott: Seniors, Entrepreneurship

Quinn Gordon: Senior, Marketing

Olivia Hepworth: MBA candidate

Ali Malid: Junior, Applied Economics

Shiron Manandhar: MS in Computer Science candidate

Bryson Sumrall: Senior, Finance