Students Win $25,000 in Start-Up Funds at Business Plan Competition

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 18, 2019 – Five finalists from High Point University’s Belk Center for Entrepreneurship had seven minutes to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges during the 2019 Business Plan Competition on April 17.

High Point University’s Belk Center for Entrepreneurship hosted 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.

Supported by BB&T, the event was held in HPU’s Callicutt Auditorium in the Congdon School of Health Sciences. The finalists competed for $25,000 in start-up funds. 

The finalists presented their businesses to a panel of judges, who scored the competitors based on a list of criteria. Funds were then divided amongst the finalists based on where they placed in the competition. Caitie Gehlhausen was selected as the first-place winner, receiving $10,000 for her company, Socket Lock-It™.

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 is made with a lightweight material. The Socket Lock-It™ comfortably holds one, two or three cards in place for a secure fit. The users can carry all their necessary cards while still having the ability to use their phone grips for an overall convenient experience.

“I feel so honored to attend a school that fully supports its students’ business endeavors,” said Gehlhausen. “Being awarded first place will allow me to dedicate a budget towards marketing and promotion that will ultimately propel the Socket Lock-It to the next level in the phone accessory industry. I can’t thank HPU enough for this amazing opportunity.”

Dylan Silber and Anthony Capece were awarded second place for Ace Footwear, receiving $7,000 for their business. 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.

Mackenzie Bonvallet won third place for his company, Ohana Lock, and received $4,000. Ohana Lock solves the problem that arises for those using water sports 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.

Other winners, earning $2,000 apiece, included Ivana Korankyi for her business, Leopard Electric, and Michael Mayolo for his business, Face2Face.

This year’s panel of judges included 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.

“These students are well coached,” said Gordon, a competition judge. “They have some good leadership at HPU because they had to be to-the-point and be able to describe their business in the context of, what problem does it solve, what market does it appeal to, who might invest in it and what are the potentials?”

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