HPU Announces Finalists for the 2019 Business Plan Competition

The Belk Center for Entrepreneurship at High Point University has announced five finalists for its ninth annual Business Plan Competition. In the back row pictured from left to right are Ivana Korankyi, Mackenzie Bonvallet, Michael Mayolo and Caitie Gehlhausen. In the front row pictured from left to right are Dylan Silber and Anthony Capece.

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 12, 2019 – The Belk Center for Entrepreneurship at High Point University has announced five finalists for its ninth annual Business Plan Competition. This year’s winners will compete for up to $25,000 in start-up funds, with support provided by BB&T.

The finalists will present their businesses to a panel of judges consisting of business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors at 5 p.m. on April 17 in Congdon School of Health Sciences, Callicutt Auditorium on HPU’s campus.

“It is a dream come true. This is something I’ve been trying to do since my freshman year,” says Anthony Capece, a sophomore entrepreneurship major, about making it to the competition. “Being a sophomore, I still have so much to achieve. But to be in this position with Dylan, my business partner, is definitely a step in the right direction.”

The annual competition is open to all HPU undergraduate students. It includes an application round that narrows the competition from approximately 24 student teams to five. Judges then review the plans and hear the pitches of the finalists.

This year’s panel of judges includes Rob Simmons, president of Machine Specialties; Tammy Simmons, vice president of marketing and culture at Machine Specialties and owner of Brain Balance Achievement Center; Jimmy Neil, general manager of Live Oak Bank; and Joe Gordon, managing partner of Gordon Asset Management.

“Over the past nine years, the HPU Business Plan Competition has served as a starting point for 32 new companies,” says Kathy Elliott, director of HPU’s Belk Center for Entrepreneurship. “These companies have received around $500,000 in both prize winnings and private investment. It’s amazing to see the ingenious ideas and energy behind the execution to launch these companies.”

Anthony Capece (left) Dylan Silber (right)

The 2019 HPU Business Plan Competition finalists are as follows:

Name: Dylan Silber and Anthony Capece

Company: Ace Footwear

Hometown: Silber is from Long Island, New York, and Capece is from Cranford, New Jersey

Ace Footwear is a patent-pending shoe design that allows the user to attach and detach into different soles specifically designed for different activities with a simple click. The shoe’s design includes being waterproof, lightweight and ultra-durable, making it ready for any occasion. Designed with professionals and travelers in mind, this innovative footwear creates a simpler and more compact way to take shoes along for various occasions such as business, golf, running and more.


Name: Caitie Gehlhausen

Company: Socket Lock-It

Hometown: Cicero, Indiana

The Socket Lock-It is a unique product with an adhesive cardholder for the back of a user’s cellphone with a receptacle that can easily exchange in and out of the user’s phone grips. The Socket Lock-It is designed and engineered to be compatible with most phone grips and has been made with a lightweight material. The Socket Lock-It comfortably holds one, two or three cards in place for a secure fit. The user can carry all their necessary cards while still having the ability to use their phone grips for an overall convenient experience.


Name: Mackenzie Bonvallet

Company: Ohana Lock

Hometown: Columbus, Georgia

Ohana Lock solves the problem that arises for those using watersport equipment. Ohana is a patent-pending lock that secures paddles to kayaks and stand-up paddle boards while in use or while in transit. Ohana Lock makes it easy to transport and secure paddles on vehicles, wearable equipment and watersports gear. Once the lock is fully developed, the functionality of the locking device will have a number of extended uses for the transportation of other products.


Name: Ivana Korankyi

Company: Leopard Electric

Hometown: Jamestown, North Carolina

Leopard Electric is a portable power station with a sleek, attractive design that is a cylindrical, self-standing portable power station with AC outlets on one side of the cylinder.  Leopard Electric is not just emergency power; it is a solution to where there is limited power and the need to eliminate electrical cords. Leopard Electric will most likely appeal to medical facilities, nursing homes, computer labs, office spaces and living spaces. With this product, the user could place lamps, televisions and other appliances anywhere in a room without the hazard of a cord running across the room.


Name: Michael Mayolo
Ashburn, Virginia

Face2Face is a facial recognition platform that aids Alzheimer’s patients in remembering names and maintaining relationships. By utilizing existing facial recognition technology, Face2Face places a small camera (like the ones in the current iPhones) into the frames of normal prescription or non-prescription glasses. When a face is recognized, Bluetooth software pairs that camera with a speaker on the temples of the glasses, reminding the Alzheimer’s patient who they are interacting with. That information will be pulled from a database stored within the app. 

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