John S. and Marlene J. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship Announces Spring Pitch Winners

KENT, Ohio - The John S. and Marlene J. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its annual Spring Pitch Competition in April, during which seven student businesses competed “Shark-Tank” style in front of a panel of executive judges for $20,000 in cash prizes.

The competition is aimed to help students grow and nurture their startups within the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

The following students won the competition:

Audrey Ernst and Vaunden Brunn took first place with their business, Rolling Refreshments, LLC.

  • Rolling Refreshments is a gourmet, mobile beverage catering company that specializes in non-alcoholic drinks like coffees and mocktails. Using their trailer or pushcart, Rolling Refreshments makes their business available for gatherings all across Northeast Ohio.

Carter Kline won second place pitching When to Water.

  • When to Water is a patented hanging flower basket hanger that measures the amount of water in the soil to prevent over and under-watering, helping the user keep their plants healthy and beautiful all summer long.

Each of the remaining finalists took home $1,000 to invest into their business:

  • Kaitlyn Phillips pitched Hy And Hook
  • Brandon Melin pitched Melin Landscaping, LLC
  • Ajeet Kumar Sandela, Nisha Chaurasia, Shefali Gupta, Lokesh Jetangi, and Sofiya Ibrayeva pitched Mark & Park
  • Gabi Spigelmire pitched One More Time Dance Boutique
  • Mark Virgil Jamer pitched Gro Up!

Audrey Ernst and Vaunden Brunn have already started planning how to invest their winnings into Rolling Refreshments.

“With the funds from this competition, we are able to begin contracting with some employees, which will be a huge help during our busiest months coming up this summer. We are now also able to put a wrap on our trailer to match our brand and add to our experience,” said Ernst. “We are so fortunate to have this experience and be a part of a college that cares so much for entrepreneurial education. The connections made from this process, and learning public speaking and presentation skills, are what will help us far beyond winning the contest.”

Judges for the event included:

  • Shampa Banerjee, Ph.D., a C-suite executive and global leader who transforms and scales businesses through innovative technology and global GTM strategies.
  • Michael Capellas ’76, founder and CEO of Capellas Partners, a strategic technology advisory firm.
  • Renée DeLuca Dolan, a vibrant force in Cleveland's business landscape and a respected figure among the city's top CEOs and industry leaders.
  • Arthur Karas, president of C&K Industrial Services, a recognized leader in the industrial and environmental service industries.

“It is rewarding to watch our students learn and grow in their confidence as they prepare for the annual competition,” said Linda Hale, manager of the John S. and Marlene J. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship. The Spring Pitch is the perfect way to showcase their hard work and commitment to excellence.”


About Kent State University’s Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship

Kent State University’s Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship is among 1% of business schools worldwide to obtain dual accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in both business and accounting. The college offers 10 undergraduate majors, 14 minors, and an undergraduate Professional Sales Certificate; MBA; master’s degrees in accounting, business analytics and economics; graduate certificates, dual degree programs, a Ph.D. program and digital transformation workshops. For more information about Kent State’s Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship, visit

POSTED: Tuesday, May 14, 2024 02:35 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 11:44 AM