High Schoolers Demonstrate Business Sense at Second Annual Chancellor's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On Saturday, April 29, UNCW will welcome six high school teams to campus for the final round of the second annual Chancellor’s High School Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition. Designed for budding business-minded students, the competition fosters inventive projects based on the “lean startup” business model.

“UNCW welcomes the opportunity to inspire the next generation of business entrepreneurs,” Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli said. “The list of ideas generated by this year’s competitors clearly shows that the American spirit of ingenuity and innovation is thriving among today’s high school students.”

During the last round of the competition, carefully selected finalists will pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges who will choose the winners from each track. The teams’ 5- to 7-minute presentations will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The finalists in the “social enterprise” track are Coastal Christian High School with “Special Sugars,” Duplin Early College High School with “Dazzle Tires” and Harrells Christian Academy with “Feelz.” The finalists for the “for-profit” track are Coastal Christian High School with “Tipstr,” Harrells Christian Academy with “Clothing Coordinator” and Union High School with “Plexus.”

Their pitches will be judged by entrepreneurs and UNCW faculty and staff: Roy Archambault, CEO of DryCorp; Alex Vestal, assistant professor of management; and Jess Boersma, director of ETEAL, UNCW’s quality enhancement plan to improve applied learning outcomes for students. The judges will choose first-, second- and third-place winners for each track.

First-place winners will receive $1,500 in cash. Second-place winners will take home $1,000; third-place winners, $500. Each cash prize is to be shared among the participants and the schools they represent. Beyond this seed money to start their businesses, winners will also walk away with trophies and a copy of The Lean Entrepreneur, the book by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits that inspired the competition.

Students from 17 southeastern North Carolina school districts were invited to register for the competition, founded in 2016 by Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli in partnership with the CIE to challenge students to create innovative solutions to real problems and enhance their knowledge of entrepreneurship.

“Last year’s winner took his winnings and actually started his business,” said Jacqueline Galbraith, coordinator for the competition. “He came into the CIE and got guidance, asked questions, met with the director and used those resources. He was a ninth grader and he has a business now. What’s he going to do in the future? It’s amazing that this is only our second year and we’re already seeing results like this."

-- Caitlin Taylor ’18M