Two COBA students win $1500 for business idea

Wednesday was the final LIVE round of COBA’s first annual Elevator Pitch competition. Ten business ideas were pitched – by a team of students or an individual. Six prizes were awarded, with the top team taking home $1500 for their pitch. The ten business idea pitches were judged based on the following categories:

  • Market
  • Business Concept
  • Value Proposition
  • Presentation Skills
  • Would you invest in this venture?

These six prizes were awarded:

  • Audience Choice Award – $250
  • Social Entrepreneurship Award – $250
  • Best Presentation Award – $250
  • Third Place – $250
  • Second Place – $750
  • Grand Prize – $1500

We were honored to have five highly successful businessmen make up our judging panel. Between the five of them, they’ve invested in or helped start over 1000 companies and have a passion for mentoring budding entrepreneurs. The judges were Dr. Jack Griggs, President and Director of Southwest Bancorp and former dean of the College of Business Administration, Mr. Jim Porter, Principal of Porter Capital Partners,  Mr. David Bruce, Founder and CEO of Alliance Recruiting Resources, Mr. Matt Booth, VP of Regency Centers, and COBA’s very own, Dr. Rick Lytle.

Here is a list of the ten business pitches and the team members for the 2011 Springboard Elevator Pitch Competition:

  • Virtual Exchange Accelerator – Levi Ritchie and Evan Whyte
  • Heaven Inspired Hands – Laura Kiminsky
  • Campuzon – Karsten Goodman and Courtney Martin
  • Red Thread Movement – Brittany Partridge and Samantha Sutherland
  • Rock and Trail – Asa Kusuma and Tim Johnston
  • Decked Out – Brionna Sherer and Marcy Thorn
  • Nascent – Nigel Bosch
  • M.Y.O.P – Carlee Finkelstein
  • Race Track Tarp – Brian Patterson and Jeremy Harrington
  • Double Impact Socks – Eldad Campbell and EJ Johnson
And here are the winners:

Grand Prize $1,500

Karsten Goodman & Courtney Martin

 Second Place $750
Double Impact Socks

Eldad Campbell & EJ Johnson 

Third Place $250

Nigel Bosch 

Best Presentation Award $250
Misfortune Cookies

Robby Wiginton 

Social Entrepreneurship Award $250
Red Thread Movement

Brittany Partridge & Samantha Sutherland

Audience Choice Award $250
Double Impact Socks

Eldad Campbell & EJ Johnson

The first annual Springboard Elevator Pitch Competition was a huge success and the packed room during the live final round testifies to the excitement this live competition generated here on campus. You can read more about the competition in this story, from the Abilene Reporter-News.

The Elevator Pitch is part of the slate of events, speakers and competitions in the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy. Students in any major can have a concentration in Entrepreneurship, and any student can participate in the competitions or attend any event. The Griggs Center also hosts four Entrepreneurs-In-Residence and is building a network of entrepreneurs that desire to have mentoring relationships with current students. As any entrepreneur will tell you – an essential component of success is building your own network of mentors and advisors. To that end, another component of the Griggs Center is the Springboard Accelerator – an on campus facility that houses student upstarts, where they have access not only to physical office space, but office equipment, phones, mailboxes, conference rooms and the guidance and advice of various business advisors (attorneys, investors, professors, and of course fellow student entrepreneurs).

Congratulations again to all of the finalists in this year’s inaugural competition!

Consider entering our next competition, our Springboard Ideas Challenge next spring. Find out more information here.

Announcing: The Springboard Accelerator

Springboard Accelerator

We are thrilled to announce the official opening of our Springboard Accelerator, a part of the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy. The Accelerator, located in the eHub at the Moore House (across the street from Nelson Hall), was created to provide office space, mentoring, support, networking and basically everything a student created business could ever need.

If you are a current student interested in applying for space, or know of a student that would be interested in learning more about the Accelerator, the eHub or the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy, please click here.

How ACU prepared me…

From time to time on this blog, we’ll be featuring brief conversations with recent COBA alum, asking them to share how ACU has prepared them for where they are now.

Jody Walker graduated from ACU with degrees in Accounting and Finance in 2009. While at ACU, Jody played on the Wildcat football team, was a member of STAR, and was a winner in the student category in our 2009 Springboard Ideas Challenge. He’s currently studying at SMU’s Dedman School of Law and is candidate for his Juris Doctrate in 2012. We’ve asked Jody to share with us how ACU prepared him for his next steps, specifically law school.

Alum Jody Walker (pictured on the left) is now a student at SMU's Dedman School of Law

1) How was your learning experience at ACU (or in COBA) different from that of your classmates at SMU?

One of the biggest differences was the technological innovation used throughout the university. Professors would take surveys on iPhones, Q & A’s would be done through text messaging in chapel and even some of my tests were taken with a remote control. None of my other classmates in graduate school had experienced a university that incorporates technology so seamlessly into thestudent bodies’ daily activities. With this exposure to a cutting-edge learning environment, ACU (and COBA) gave me more than just a “textbook” education.

2) Do you think your learning experience at ACU provided better preparation than your classmates’ college preparation? If so, how? If no, why not?

ACU (and COBA) definitely excelled at preparing me academically for graduate school, as well as for my future in the workplace. ACU is able to distinguish itself on many different levels from the typical public university, and I believe that one of the most beneficial aspects of ACU was the opportunity to improve my social skills. Sounds strange, but the constant communication with my professors and other students, daily interactions with classmates at chapel (not during chapel of course), and socializing at the numerous school activities all helped me develop the skills and attributes necessary to effectively communicate with the people around me. I feel like this intangible characteristic is often neglected at bigger universities, but with the personal environment ACU creates, it gave me the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with the people I encountered in addition to learning invaluable interpersonal skills.

3) What class/program/event/professor helped prepare you the most for the workplace or grad school? What did they do that was helpful?

STAR (Student Training and Research) was probably the most useful program in COBA. It was a real world application of the material I learned in class. At times it’s hard to comprehend equations and theories past the pages of your textbook, but STAR gave me the unparalleled experience I needed to succeed in graduate school.

4) Now that you are in law school, what is one piece of advice you’d like to share with prospective students or current students that would have helped you?

Get involved, or stay involved with something at ACU. Whether it’s a social club, an organization, or some other extra curricular activity, the relationships you build at ACU are unlike any other.

Springboard Ideas Challenge Awards Dinner

Our fourth annual Springboard Ideas Challenge Awards Dinner was another successful, educational and fun event here on campus. As guests gathered in Hunter Welcome Center, they could mingle through the many displays of the Ideas Challenge finalists, learning more about their business plans and ideas. And in some cases, even tasting the finalists’ business idea. 

During the meal, we heard more about the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy from the Director of the Center, Dr. Jim Litton, as well as COBA dean, Dr. Rick Lytle.

Dr. Rick Lytle discussing the Griggs Center

Special guests, Dr. and Mrs. Jack Griggs

To be sure, the point of the awards dinner is to announce the winners of the small business plan competition. But the focus of the entire event and evening is to encourage entrepreneurship – to encourage the entrepreneurs, as well as to encourage the wider community that will support these businesses. To speak further about the topic of entrepreneurship and community, ACU and the College of Business Administration was thrilled to bring in Jessica Jackley, co-founder of and most recently, founder of

Special Guest Speaker Jessica Jackley

Jackley shared her experiences in South Africa that lead her to start KIVA

Jackley’s engaging, down-to-earth, completely authentic style had the audience laughing at different times and moved to tears at others. Here’s a nice recap of what she shared from the Abilene Reporter-News.

Audience members had the opportunity to text Jackley questions at the conclusion of her talk

After Jackley shared about her experiences, Dr. Litton announced the winners of the mini-business plan competition. Here is the breakdown of the winners in each catagory:

Community Post-Revenue

Honorable Mention ($1000 cash prize):

  • Enchilada Express – Chris Norton,
  • Urban Male Hair and Grooming – Lindsey Soria,
  • Dream Spectrum Design – Charles Caddell,

2nd Place ($3000 cash prize):

  • Advantage Cubed – Coty Woolf

1st Place ($7500 cash prize):

  • Indivijual Custom Eyeware – Randy Barnett,

Community Pre-Revenue

Honorable Mention ($1000 cash prize):

  • Cordell’s – Jason Beard, Joy Beard
  • XYZ Eyewear – Dr. Troy Carter, Tyler Lewis

2nd Place ($3000 cash prize):

  • Knox City Hometown Variety – Sheri Baty, Ezekial Duke, Marla Hawkins, Steve Pepper

1st Place ($7500 cash prize):

  • Landman.IO – Chad Hutchins


Honorable Mention ($1000 cash prize):

  • Walk Thru – Joshua Archer, Chase Cobern, Justin Durko
  • Super TwinBEAR – David Galaz, Chen Gong, Patrick Yan
  • – Chas Quisenberry
  • The Cellular Trap – Tyler Nolan, John Stevens, Derek Zimmerman

2nd place ($3000 cash prize):

  • iMedical Online – Clayton Selby, Seth Thomas

1st place ($7500 cash prize):

  • ScholarSphere – Asa Kusuma, Tim Johnston

Social Entrepreneurship Award ($2500 cash prize):

  • Suffer Not the Children – Christina Batten, Kevin Batten

Most Fundable Award ($7500 cash prize):

  • Landman.IO – Chad Hutchins

Congratulations to all of our winners! In addition to the cash prizes, winners will also have the opportunity to receive in-kind prizes like office space, equipment and furniture. The cash and in-kind prizes were provided by the following sponsors:

Bronze Sponsors

  • ACU Campus Bookstore
  • Morris&Mitchell
  • Rosas Cafe
  • Shelton Family Foundation
  • Women for ACU

Silver Sponsors

  • Abilene Reporter News
  • American State Bank
  • First Financial Bank
  • Genesis Network Solutions
  • McMurry University
  • Raindance Capital
  • Senter, Realtors

Gold Sponsors

  • Development Corporation of Abilene
  • Dian Graves Owen Foundation
  • Dodge Jones Foundation
  • Jack and Ann Griggs
  • Texas Tech Small Business Development Center
  • Kenny and Sharon Wilson

Platinum Sponsors

  • ACU’s College of Business Administration
  • Bixby Enterprises and Mark Horn Enterprises

And special Program Partner, Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas.

We are grateful for the community of support we received in order to host this competition and awards dinner. Our events would not have been possible without the partnership of our sponsors, judges, contestants, COBA faculty, ACU staff and specifically, Dr. Jim Litton. If you are interested in learning more about our entrepreneurship program in COBA or how you can participate in next year’s Ideas Challenge, please email us at

Jessica Jackley is coming to ACU

Have you purchased your tickets for the Springboard Awards Banquet? You won’t want to miss it – not only will awards (and we mean cash and prizes) be given out to our Springboard Ideas Competition winners, we’ll also have the pleasure of hearing from Jessica Jackley, co-founder of

Jessica will be on campus March 31st and April 1st

To learn more about KIVA, watch this. She was recently featured as a “Character Approved” honoree on USA Network.

She’ll be speaking at the dinner on Thursday night, March 31st. The next day, Friday, April 1st, she’ll be addressing the whole University during Big Chapel in Moody.