Written By Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation

Phoenix: Last week, the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI) at GateWay Community College hosted ten aspiring student entrepreneurs, each one carrying a distinction as a finalist for the Big Pitch competition. The annual competition, designed to help startups raise the capital they need to turn their business dreams into reality, is hosted by CEI, an industry-leading entrepreneurial incubator since 2013.

While the competition is open to any student attending a Maricopa Community College, you would never suspect that the companies competing for funding were student-led. With professional coaching and training conducted by Maricopa Community College business faculty and instructors, the finalists gathered to make their final pitches to a panel of judges in hopes of winning $15,000, a larger amount than in years past. The increased grand prize was made possible through a generous donation from Wells Fargo. “We are very thankful for the support that Wells Fargo has provided for these students with their start-ups. Their generosity will have a big impact”. Said Tom Schumann, the Executive Director of CEI.

“It is so exciting to see students who are actively working on turning their passion into a business,” said Patti DuBois, Assistant Executive Director for CEI. “This competition is a reflection of the hard work that the students put in, and also the incredible training they receive through the colleges and CEI.”

On April 13, the finalists selected were:

CompanyStudent FounderBrief Description
PlaydateProAZ.comAlyssa Prewitt, Ashely GalvinOnline dashboard that shares the latest upcoming events, and places to play for AZ families.
Altalune MysticsChrista RobertsFull-spectrum doula service and herbal products.
Everyday Jumps LLCDavid OlivoParty rentals – wet or dry bounce houses
Faithfully FitDre HooverPersonal training gym
Shine Bright Med SpaMarie TiceA Medical Spa offering a variety of aesthetic services
Colby BridalPoppy (Patricia) MicsunescuHigh-quality designer wedding gowns with an “off-the rack” selection
S&S Express Heavy TransportationSandra Shockley-Jones HeavyHeavy equipment transportation to job sites
T’Ana Phelice Productions LLCT’Ana ThompsonProduces diverse films and stage plays with the capacity to inspire positive social change
Art Thou TifaTiffany HolmanHair salon and commissioned paintings and murals
Meditation And IVanessa WilliamsMeditation app with audio intelligent sessions, 360 backgrounds, duo-guided instructors, and high-definition perception

Once finished making their pitches, judges evaluated each company’s business proposals and pitches to determine a winner. This year’s competition also offered a second prize of $7,000 and a third prize of $3,000 to the runner-ups. 

After starting with 27 companies, the grand prize winner was Altalune Mystics. Led by student Christa Roberts, the company is a product and service-based company that brings self-care and holistic health to one intentional space. Taking second place was Art Thou Tifa, a visual art company specializing in hair and commissioned paintings and murals. Finally, rounding out the top 3 in third place was Shine Bright Med Spa, A Medical Spa offering various aesthetic services.

While funding only went to the top 3 companies, each student entrepreneur received a free, three-day boot camp to help them prepare their business plans and pitch. Invaluable experience they will take with them to help turn their business dreams into reality.For more information about CEI, visit www.ceigateway.com.

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