HPU Students Win Start-Up Funds at 2017 Business Plan Competition

Ryan Gilbert

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 21, 2017 – Winners of High Point University’s Business Plan Competition received thousands of dollars toward their business idea during the seventh annual event. 

Hosted by High Point University’s Belk Center for Entrepreneurship and supported by BB&T, the five finalists competed for $25,000 in start-up funds. The event was held in the Michael L. and Laura M. Baur Institute for Executive Education inside Cottrell Hall on HPU’s campus.

Each finalist presented their business plan to a panel of judges who scored the competitors based on a list of criteria. Funds were then divided amongst the finalist based on where they placed in the competition. Ryan Gilbert was selected as the first place winner, receiving $9,500 for his company, Student Storage. 

Student Storage is a company that partners with colleges to help the institutions develop and manage their own storage service for the ease of students. By partnering with universities and utilizing a unique crate system, Student Storage is able to undercut existing storage options. The system includes a crate that is dropped off at the student’s dorm and can be loaded by Student Storage employees. Unlike other storage companies, Gilbert’s crates are on wheels, can be lifted easily by two people and fit through double doors. Crates are then stored at a location the college owns such as a warehouse or vacant building that can be locked.

“These competitions are one of the reasons I chose to attend High Point University,” said Gilbert. “I knew the opportunities and the programs here would be so helpful. Now that I’m here at a university that hosts these sorts of competitions, I’m so grateful. One of the best parts of being in this competition has also been meeting my competitors. I didn’t know them before, and I’ve learned a lot from them.”

Erika Bridges was awarded second place, receiving $6,500 for her hair tie business, Knot Average. Bridges formed her business as a charitable operation, primarily selling and making hair accessories for a variety of causes. Every other month, a percentage of sales from custom or pre-designed hair ties is donated to a different charity based on customer nominations. Her products are available online and at Simon Jewelers in High Point. 

Charlotte Thompson, creator of Water-You-Saving, a device that recycles shower water for toilet use, place third in the competition and won $5,000 towards her company. Her impact-driven concept aims to solve the need for a continuous supply of fresh water by reducing household water consumption. 

Second place winner Erika Bridges presents the business plan for her company Knot Average to a panel of judges and HPU students, faculty and staff.

Fourth place and $2,500 went to Jacqueline Stein, founder of PE3RS, a company that utilizes virtual reality to allow educators to experience life through the eyes of a student with learning disabilities. Fifth place went to Joseph McCabe, who received $1,500 towards his company Panther Propulsion, an engine propulsion system that aims to optimize efficiency in the aerospace industry. 

Judges for this year’s competition were Christy Cottrell, CEO and founder of RetailData, LLC; Flint McNaughton, owner of SunCap Property Group; Richard Wood, financial advisor and stock broker; Eric Hill, co-founder of BioRX; and Les Goldberg, president and CEO of LMG USA Holdings, Inc.

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