HIGH POINT, N.C., April 24, 2014 – Business leaders gathered April 24 at High Point University to judge and award $15,000 in venture capital to three HPU students who are putting their business plans into action.
Sophomore Bobby Robertson was awarded first place and $8,000 for Tunetap, a company he cofounded that allows musicians and bands to pre-sell tickets and measure demand for concerts. The company already has a successful track record and previously won first place and start-up funds at Cornell’s Shark Tank competition in its business school. Tunetap has allowed Robertson, a Rhode Island native attending HPU on a voice scholarship, to combine his love of music and business.
UPDATE: The day after Robertson landed first place in the HPU Business Plan Competition, he and his team also took home 3rd place among all technology start-ups in the state of New York.
The second place prize of $5,000 went to graduating senior Eugenia Copeland for her business, Masson Copeland Foods, a company specializing in making and selling the Stovie. The Stovie is an all-natural gluten free mix between a cookie and a granola bar, made using a family recipe developed by her 5th great-grandfather in the 1800s.
Sophomore Emily De Lena was awarded third place and $2,000 for her plan to open OwlAid, a business that provides services for the elderly so they can remain living independently in their own homes.
The competition is sponsored by High Point University’s Phillips School of Business, the Center for Entrepreneurship and BB&T. All three finalists were challenged to submit a business plan and present it in front of a panel of several judges consisting of local business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors. The business plans were evaluated on multiple criteria, including financial feasibility, uniqueness of the product or service, and clarity of the business model.
“I love this process; I think it’s what every school needs to be doing,” said Sid Smith, co-founder of Marketing Sharks in Apex, N.C., who served as a judge at the competition. “It’s especially important because students can bounce their ideas off of people who have already made the mistakes they’re getting ready to make, and avoid making those same mistakes altogether.”
In addition to providing HPU students the chance to raise funds for their businesses, the competition also offers finalists experience pitching their ideas, communicating with potential investors and receiving valuable feedback about their plans.
“This is another justification to myself and my team at Tunetap that the company we’ve put so much heart and soul into is truly valuable in the eyes of others,” says Robertson. “We are so appreciative of these start-up funds, which will help us expand throughout the summer. While winning feels amazing, it was also essential to get feedback from the judges on ways to improve our company. Meeting them and hearing their thoughts on how we can change our plans and go after even more venture capital was just as important as the funds.”
“This was a great competition,” said Lou Anne Flanders-Stec, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and organizer of the competition. “The students were well-prepared and poised, and the judges were excited to hear the stories behind their businesses.”