HPU Students Win $10,000 in Start-Up Funds in Business Plan Competition

Apr 21st, 2020

HPU Students Win $10,000 in Start-Up Funds in Business Plan Competition

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 21, 2020 – High Point University’s Belk Center for Entrepreneurship announced the winners of the 2020 Business Plan Competition. Held virtually this year, 12 finalists submitted business pitches to a panel of judges. The annual competition, supported by Truist, grants start-up funds to students, totaling $10,000.

Funds were divided amongst the finalists based on where they placed in the competition.

Caitie Gehlhausen was selected as first-place winner, receiving $4,000 for her company CONEvertible.

CONEvertible offers the premium alternative to the traditional pet cone. By eliminating nearly 25% of the material from a traditional cone, the CONEvertible allows your pet to see, hear and navigate better.

“Participating in the Business Plan Competition is such an honor. It is so exciting seeing what started as merely an idea, evolve into reality,” says Gehlhausen. “Whether it is public speaking, or learning how to compose a pitch deck, being involved in the experience well exceeds anything I could learn from a textbook.”

Mark McKinney was selected as second-place winner, receiving $2,000 for his company ATMOS.

Atmos is an SMS chatbot platform that increases student engagement and university retention rates by accurately connecting students to mentors in a more personalized and efficient way than ever before.

“This opportunity extends my education beyond the classroom to the nuances of entrepreneurship,” says McKinney. “Pitching my idea and receiving feedback only strengthens my company’s strategy and gives me more confidence in my future endeavors.”


Jared Brumm and Lauren McAtee tied for third-place, receiving $750 each.

Brumm’s company EZ Reach Crutch is a novel design for forearm crutches that allows the user to move their arms freely in front of them, while the crutches stay standing by their side to help individuals accomplish daily tasks safer, more conveniently, and with greater mobility.

“The resources won during this competition support my goal of taking my business to the next level,” says Brumm.


McAtee’s PawAlert is an application for wearable health monitors, such as Apple Watch or Fitbit, that will connect to a pendant that can be worn on any standard dog collar to monitor anxiety levels and panic attacks of individuals and alert the dog through an audible sound to the pendant that the owner is having an attack.

“Opportunities like the Business Plan Competition allow me to be more confident in my ideas, evaluate criticism and use what mentors tell me to pursue my dreams and work hard toward my goals,” says McAtee.

The remaining winnings were divided among finalists Bert Cumming, Nate DeTemple, Billy Davis, Andrew DeFeo, Anthony Demattos, Matthew Hershaft, Corbin Elliott, Jacob Maggioncalda and Vincent Scavo.

This year’s panel of judges included Steve Alberts, adjunct instructor of marketing; Scott Davis, associate professor of accounting and finance; Dr. Daniel Hall, chair and associate professor of economics; Dr. Bob Hirth, assistant professor; Dr. Jo Lacy, assistant professor; and Randy Moser, assistant professor. The students were coached by Kathy Elliott, assistant professor of the practice of entrepreneurship and director of HPU’s Belk Center for Entrepreneurship; and Troy Knauss, assistant professor of the practice of entrepreneurship.

“This year marked the 10th anniversary of the HPU Business Plan Competition, and I continue to be impressed with the high-quality effort students put into their pitches,” said Elliott. “In our classes, we have the opportunity to facilitate tremendous growth in these young entrepreneurs, and many times we see it come to fruition through this competition each spring.”