University of the Cumberlands students win start-up money for business projects

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WILLLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – University of the Cumberlands held its annual student Entrepreneurship Pitch Contest on Friday, April 16, 2021 at the Hutton School of Business.

The winner of this year’s competition was Ashley Ikner with K&A Health & Wellness, a comprehensive wellness center with a full gym with trainers, recovery room with recovery equipment and supplements, and complete kitchen with prepped meals and cooking classes.

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Ashley will take the $1,000 prize to help start her business to be located in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The second-place winner of a $500 prize was Emily Vogt with a business plan for “Earthy & Free,” a vegan café based in Bowling Green, Ky. The third-place winner ($250) was Grace Chitwood with a business plan for “Security Solutions” a cybersecurity company.

All other student teams that participated received $100 prize to help pursue their business ideas.

In the contest, 7 student teams pitched their businesses to a team of judges with the goal of winning a grand prize of $1,000.

The teams had been preparing their business ideas and pitches over the past four months in a series of entrepreneurial “bootcamps” held at the new business incubator space at Marketplace on Main & 3rd in downtown Williamsburg.

A panel of three judges — Anne Bays, Owner of Moonlight Meat; Dr. Chris Leskiw, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of the Cumberlands; and Michael Sharpe, Regional President of Forcht Bank — evaluated the pitches to determine the first place, second place, and third place prizes.

Judge Michael Sharpe remarked, “The presentations were very impressive, and I’m sure there were many in that room who will create their own paths through entrepreneurship.”

The Pitch Competition was founded by Assistant Professor of Accounting Dr. Jake Brock in 2019 and is now overseen by Entrepreneur in Residence Dr. Geoff Marietta.

“We are extremely proud of all the students who participated in the competition this year. The competition highlighted the ingenuity and innovation found in Cumberlands students,” Dr. Marietta said.