The Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (CEBI) hosts an annual pitch competition to support startups within the College of Business Administration's entrepreneurship program. Teams may apply so long as at least one student is an entrepreneurship major or minor. This year, seven finalists participated in a three-month mentorship program to prepare for the event. In total, $20,000 will be awarded to CEBIpitch winners.
1st Place: Kelly Fenwick - Smart Collar
2nd Place: Gregory Joyce II - Provok Clothing
3rd Place: Siera Terry - Bougie Bands
- Students had 7 minutes to pitch their business and 5 minutes to answer pre-submitted questions from judges.
- Winners will be selected based on the feedback from judges only; however, viewers are allowed to provide constructive feedback to pitch finalists using the buttons below.
- First place winner will receive $10,000
- Second place winner will receive $5,000
- Third place winner will receive $3,000
- All other students will receive $500
Rachel Johnson: Pivot
PIVOT is an electrolyte based canned cocktail made from all-natural ingredients and no artificial sweeteners. The beverage is carefully formulated to deliver the full flavor profile of a complex craft cocktail, yet the nutritional profile of a low-calorie option all while minimizing the effects of dehydration that drinking may cause.
Kelly Fenwick: Smart Collar
Smart Collar is an electronic wearable device for dogs that allows people to better understand the physical and mental state of their dog. The device attaches to any collar and uses a light that changes color based on the dog’s biometrics. Fear, stress, and/or anxiety can be indicated by the collar.
Anastasia Konstantinopoulos: Soseme
Soseme, which means "save me" in Greek, is a mobile application that enhances the experience of exploring a new city in an efficient and organized way. As a resource for study abroad and other types of travel, Soseme provides valuable information, including an indication of the safety of an area, through social media.
Siera Terry: Boujie Bands
Bougie Bands is an accessories brand for women, reflecting an appreciation of female empowerment and inclusivity. With diversity in mind, Bougie Hijabs were created specifically for women who wear hijabs. These types of products are not typically represented in the headband market.
Nicholas Marsteller: Citrous
Citrous is an organic beverage company that handcrafts signature, lemon-based drinks using only filtered water, organic lemon juice and raw honey. Citrous is building on consumers’ interest in natural products and engenders trust with transparent labeling that lists exact ingredients without any vague terms like “natural flavors.”
Gregory Joyce II: Provok Clothing
Provok is a clothing brand designed to display powerful symbolism that represents social issues through design and meaningful content. Based on topics trending on its social media platforms, Provok creates content on clothing that is positive, educational and addresses controversial topics being discussed by college students.
Benjamin Langan: Mulberry Creek Winery
Mulberry Creek Winery is a rustic destination winery designed to provide a memorable experience that allows visitors to unwind, gather and celebrate through the gardens and grounds of Northern Ohio’s premier herb farm.
Archer, '61, is CEO and owner of Kent Watersports and its branded companies O’Brien International, Connelly Skis, HO Sports Company, Liquid Force, Absolute Outdoor, Barefoot International, Nash Sports/Hydroslide, Arbor Collective and Aqua Sports (Houjie, China). Kent Watersports was purchased from Brown Group International of St. Louis in 1981 as a highly-leveraged buyout by a group of six entrepreneurs led by Archer. Since 1981, Kent Watersports has acquired 35 companies and divested only three. The company makes and sells more life jackets than any other manufacturer in the world. The companies also sell water skis, wake boards, wake surfers, recreational water inflated water tubes, ropes, stand-up paddle boards, knee boards, snow boards, ballast bags and branded apparel. Archer serves on the Ashland YMCA Board of Trustees, the Huntington Bank Regional Advisory Board and the Ashland University Board of Trustees. He is involved in scholar athlete and scholar musician scholarships in New London and Ashland, Ohio.
Besselman, ‘74, serves as senior client sales executive at Dassault Systèmes. He began working in the computer industry in 1977 with Burroughs Corporation (now Unisys) and opened the first Novell Networking Software Dealership in Atlanta in 1984. In 1988, he became an early employee of Oracle Corporation. In 1993, he helped launch Baan Corporation, a provider of manufacturing software in the United States. This team took Baan public in 1995 on NASDAQ where it was the 4th most successful IPO that year. Since then, Besselman has worked extensively in Europe and Asia. He is multilingual, speaking conversational German, Japanese, French and Spanish. Besselman has been involved in multiple start-ups, including Telelogic based in Sweden, where he was part of the team which grew the company and sold it to IBM in 2007. In recent years, his focus has been in big data analytics/security, mobility based supply chain, cloud manufacturing and most recently artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicle software and drone delivery software at Dassault Systemes, based in Paris.
Morris, ’95, is a background screening and risk management expert currently serving as a consultant to the Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA). He founded Cleveland-based EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999, which became a global leader in employee screening, serving as its President and Chief Operating Officer until 2015. The company won numerous awards, including the prestigious Weatherhead 100 for high growth companies in northeast Ohio six years in a row.
Rénee Deluca Dolan
Renée DeLuca Dolan, '88, is founder and president of Contempo Communications. She is a member of the Kent State College of Business Administration National Advisory Board and serves as co-presenting sponsor of the Home-plate Celebration event for Northeast Ohio Adoption Services. In addition, she is on the board of the Warrensville Heights Chamber of Commerce. DeLuca Dolan graduated from Kent State with a Bachelor of Arts degree in telecommunications.
Banerjee, '99, is chief product officer/senior vice president at Pluto TV, ViacomCBS's free-streaming TV division. She earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Kent State University and masters degrees in physics from Case Western Reserve University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. She serves as a board member for the Association for Corporate Growth Silicon Valley and previously was a Board Advisor for Wist and Minio Social Games. She is also a mentor at NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center.
Solomon, '74, has been involved in early stage technology companies and emerging growth companies as an entrepreneur, investor, senior manager and board member. Early in his career, he owned the youngest of Apple Computer's independent representative firms from 1980 to 1984, the period when Apple grew from $100 million to $1.4 billion in annual sales. In 1985, he became the original vice president of sales and marketing with Aldus Corporation in Seattle, which launched the desktop publishing industry through its PageMaker software. Solomon has provided leadership to companies including Collabra, Telocity, Flycast and eShop. He served as a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures from 1996 to 2002. From 2005 to 2010, he served as CEO of Audyssey Laboratories of Los Angeles. In 2010, Solomon started his latest company, XYZ Color Science, Inc., which seeks to revolutionize the way color is displayed on display devices. He serves as the Board Chairman of Within 3 Corporation, a Cleveland-based medical industry software company and is a member of the Kent State University Board of Trustees. He graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.