Published on April 29, 2020 by Morgan Black
Samford University’s Brock School of Business and Regions Bank teamed up to present the 12th Annual Regions New Venture Challenge business plan competition April 24. Recent alumni and student competitors from across Samford’s campus displayed virtual ingenuity as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to move to an online forum.
Individuals interested in starting their own business entered the competition for the chance to win start-up capital, gain publicity and receive mentoring to help fund their businesses. First, second and third place prizes were available for the Open Division valued at $7,500, $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. The BUSA 100 Division is open to students currently enrolled in the freshman World of Business course. In this division, first place received $2,500, while second and third placed received $1,500 and $1,000, respectively.
Due to the virtual nature of the 2020 event, competitors had to shift gears to pitch their business plans through video presentations submitted prior to the online meeting with Brock School of Business faculty and competition judges. The students adjusted their business plans to fit the current economic climate because of the pandemic.
The Open Division was won by A & J Muscle Movers and its owners Alfred Brown ’19 and Justin Foster ’19. A & J Muscle Movers provides professional relocation and storage services. They promise to help make moving stress free by providing customers with unbeatable prices. Brown and Foster were both public administration majors at Samford and had competed in the challenge in previous years. They gave honor to God for allowing them to reach this milestone and recognized Samford University, Brock School of Business, interim dean Chad Carson, and the competition judging panel for providing this opportunity for them during such unusual circumstances.
Brown said, “Winning the 2020 Regions New Venture Challenge is a great accomplishment for our brand. For me, this challenge was bigger than just sharing the vision for our brand. It was an opportunity to share our ‘why.’ Our ultimate goal is to be the change that we want to see in the world. We wish to become the lighthouse of hope and opportunity acting as the gateway between being a student and stepping into the real world. After three years of competing in the Regions New Venture Challenge only to come up short definitely makes winning it worth all the many lessons that we learned along the way. We were successfully able to take an aspect from each of our shortcomings to create a plan that has put our brand in a position to excel.”
Foster added, “This journey started a long time ago when Alfred and I were freshmen and saw a need in our school community and the surrounding communities for an efficient, dependable and affordable moving service. We’ve faced many trials and tribulations over the years and have had plenty of defeats, but this is a step in the right direction for A & J Muscle Movers. This opportunity has been a very humbling experience for me and has in many ways made me grow as an entrepreneur and as a business owner. I am forever grateful to the Samford community and how it has helped turn our dreams into a reality. And I hope to continue to serve my community and many more as A & J grows as a company.”
The Open Division’s second-place winner was Paper Eliza presented by its owner and senior finance and marketing major Eliza Bishop from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Paper Eliza provides high-quality, custom paper products for the booming wedding industry. In December 2019, Bishop won the regional round of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) which allowed her the opportunity to compete in the national competition in Silicon Valley.
Third place went to Ninety Nine Productions which provides small concerts ranging from 75 to 300 people and focuses on creating a feeling of community around music. The owners of Ninety Productions are Jack Brittle, a finance major from Vestavia, AL; and Will Jones, an entrepreneurship major from Hayden, AL.
In the freshman BUSA 100 Division, the winning team was Nails to You, a luxury mobile nail care service offering top quality nail care for college females. Second place was awarded to Stork, an innovative ridesharing company designed to serve single or working parents by providing afterschool transportation for kids, merging the transportation and childcare industries. Third place went to Celebake, a bakery delivery service that provides fresh baked goods to homes and dorm rooms. The students representing these businesses are listed below.
The panel of judges for this year’s competition included repeat judge Heather Williams Simmons, M.B.A. ’11. Simmons is the founder and president of Tallulah Faire Designs, a women’s clothing line launched in 2011 that has expanded to include handmade decorative pillows, jewelry and accessories. Simmons works out of her design studio in Atlanta and consults with creative businesses around the country.
In reflection on this year’s competition, Simmons said, “This year proved the toughest to judge yet. All the competitors were highly competent, creative, and showed such initiative in their proposals. They pivoted seamlessly from in-person presentations to an online format in a snap; I’m so impressed with their flexibility and professionalism. It’s always a pleasure to witness Samford’s top talent pitch great ideas in business.”
“The Regions New Venture Challenge is a showcase event for Brock School of Business,” interim dean Chad Carson closed. “The last few years have featured competitors and winners outside the business school and I couldn’t be prouder for this event to truly become an experience that highlights talent from across the university.”
Open Division Winners
First Place: A & J Muscle Movers
Alfred Brown '19 and Justin Foster '19
Second Place: Paper Eliza
Third Place: Ninety Nine Productions
Jack Brittle and Will Jones
BUSA 100 Division Winners
First Place: Nails to You
Abigail Meletio (prebusiness, Jonesboro, GA), Bradley Tadeo (prebusiness, Sterrett, AL), Bill Mouchette (prebusiness, Gallatin, TN), Calvin Winch (prebusiness, Alpharetta, GA), Collin Von Hoffman (finance and marketing, Marietta, GA), Emma Rydholm (healthcare administration with entrepreneurship and general business minor, Batavia, IL), Henry Kim (prebusiness, South Korea), Hope Dawson (journalism and mass communications with general business minor, Birmingham, AL)
Second Place: Stork
Heath Padgett (biology, Birmingham, AL), Reagan Bovenkamp (prebusiness, Richardson, TX), Reid French (prebusiness, Mandeville, LA), Holden LaForce (prebusiness, Dallas, TX), Michelle Morgan (prebusiness, Birmingham, AL), Jacob Speights (communication studies with marketing and general business minor, League City, TX), Ari Thomas (prebusiness, Hermitage, TN), Jillian White (prebusiness, Cumming, GA)
Third Place: Celebake
Libby Malcolm (prebusiness, Atlanta, GA), Levi Thomas (prebusiness, Woodstock, GA), Manon Lippens (prebusiness, Palmetto, FL; originally from Belgium), Andrea Rodriguez (prebusiness, Vestavia, AL), Benjamin Henderson (prebusiness, Mint Hill, NC), Justin Stuckey (prebusiness, Helena, AL), Erin Colston (interior design with general business minor, Brooks), Ben Runyan (prebusiness, McKinney, TX)
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.