We were not able to attend the finals due to a business commitment in Nashville. We now have some additional information, thanks to Tom Graves, Operations Director for the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK).
First place went to Style with Benefits. Looking for a way to combine a for-profit business with social consciousness, Chelsea Padgham, a senior at UTK majoring in Economics, created the on-line retailer that purchases products from the artizens in developing countries and contributes a portion of the profits to smaller, often overlooked, social cause organizations in the region.
“People want products that support good causes,” says Padgham. “My business model helps the artizens in developing countries and social cause organizations here at home.” Acknowledging that similar businesses exist, she says Style with Benefits can effectively compete by incorporating “Karma Points” that reward customers by allowing them to earn points that can be redeemed for future products with each purchase.
More information on Padgham and her company can be found at www.stylewithbenefits.org.
Second place went to on-line retailer, The Gifter’s Market, founded by Emily Skaar, a senior at UTK who is majoring in Logistics.
“I believe we all want to give unique gifts to the special people in our lives,” Skaar said. “By searching out unique craft items at national craft shows and out-of-the-way businesses, The Gifter’s Market can offer truly different gifts for our customers.”
Skaar intends to differentiate the business, not only with unusual gifts but also by developing interactive relationships with customers. She intends to send out reminders for birthdays, anniversaries or other important dates that customers place in their personal profile on the site.
Graves says eight teams competed in the “Fall Vol Court” pitch competition. By placing first, Style with Benefits received $1,000 to move its business forward, space at the UT Research Foundation (UTRF) business incubator, consulting services from Pershing Yoakley and Associates, legal services from the Morehous Legal Group, and mentoring from ACEI and Launch Tennessee. The prize package is worth more than $5,000.
The second place team won $500, space in the UTRF business incubator, legal services from the Morehous, and mentoring from ACEI and Launch Tennessee.