VisiShield Education & Professional Solutions captured the top prize in the Golden Idea Pitch Competition hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Business and Economic Development on Thursday, Nov. 19.
The first-place concept was developed and presented by Samuel Sumrall, a marketing major from Laurel, Miss. VisiShield's proposition included the manufacturing and distribution of polycarbonate desk shields to make educational institutions of all grade levels a safer place to learn. The shields were also pitched as an option for professional office settings. In addition to bragging rights, the first-place winner received a $1,000 cash prize.
The Farmer's Buggy, pitched by Kellie Jackson, took second place and a $500 cash prize. She is a senior public health policy and administration major minoring in business and Spanish. Jackson’s app-based concept directly addressed current disconnects between farmers and local markets, specifically focusing on making local produce more accessible.
Third place, and a $250 cash prize, was awarded to BBG Insurance, pitched by junior finance major Blake Gwin. BBG Insurance focused on a growing opportunity in cyber security insurance and proposed the creation of an insurance sales agency to partner and bundle consulting services with cyber security consultants.
The Golden Idea Competition, which is modeled after the hit TV show “Shark Tank,” provided a platform for budding entrepreneurs to pitch their products/services to a panel of judges, consisting of notable USM alumni, business counselors, serial entrepreneurs, and equity investors. Open to students of all majors, the Golden Idea Competition is hosted each November during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
“Our students demonstrated real determination throughout this year's Golden Idea process,” said James Wilcox, Director of the Southern Miss Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education. “They refused to be intimidated by the many challenges and setbacks that 2020 has thrown their way. In fact, in true entrepreneurial fashion, it's clear that they have only added fuel to the fire.”
The competition consisted of 4 rounds. Initially, students submitted business proposals for their services or products. In these proposals, students identified the problem they were trying to solve along with their proposed solution, target market, competition, and potential revenue. The top 5 teams who competed in the Golden Idea Pitch Competition Finals each had two minutes to pitch their idea and up to ten minutes for questions. Shortly thereafter, the judges conferred to determine the top three contestants.
“This year’s competition is a testament to the tenacity and creativity of our students, faculty, and staff. Each found new ways to accomplish their objectives and the bar for next year has been set rather high,” said Dr. Bret Becton, Dean of the College of Business and Economic Development. “We look forward to seeing these ideas possibly grow into viable businesses.”
The competition was sponsored by the College of Business and Economic development, the School of Management, and the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education.