Published on February 6, 2023 by Morgan Black  
McDermott EOGSEA

In January, Samford University’s Brock School of Business hosted the regional round of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) 2023 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA). Senior Kaitlin McDermott won the business pitch competition and advanced to the national round which took place in San Diego, California.

McDermott, a marketing and finance double major, presented her digital marketing agency, Social Hour, which she rebranded from her original platform, My Marketing Degree.  

“As a senior, it was more than likely this would be my first and last pitch competition as a college student,” McDermott said. “Regardless of the outcome, preparing for my pitch bettered my public speaking skills, and allowed me to determine how I want Social Hour to be communicated to those who are unaware of my business endeavors.”

EO is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs whose mission is to help entrepreneurs grow through peer-to-peer learning, entrepreneurial experiences and events, and connections to expert entrepreneurs worldwide.

By clinching the GSEA regional competition, McDermott won $2,000 to use as capital, and one-on-one coaching sessions from the organization’s network of business professionals including financial, legal, accounting, digital marketing and social media experts.

With clients in Dallas, Texas, and Birmingham, Alabama, already, McDermott’s goals are for Social Hour to become a full-service marketing agency, providing in-house social media design, website design, branding, photography and more. She wants to expand her business into different cities and work with local creators to provide these services for clients looking enhance their online presence. Additionally, McDermott envisions providing college students or novice creators with experiences they may not be able to obtain as younger creators to allow them to add to their portfolio and resume.

McDermott added, “I’m so thankful for the time and resources that Dr. Mazzei, Dr. Mertz, as well as Samford alumnus, Cameron Gonzalez, have given to mentor and prepare me to compete well. I am also so thankful for the resources that the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Birmingham has given me to continue to invest in my business and future as an entrepreneur. I look forward to continuing to grow Social Hour post-graduation, and I’m excited to explore more competitive pitch opportunities to invest in my presentation skills and Social Hour!”

Three other Samford students pitched their businesses in the regional competition—junior finance major Ash Perry, founder of Howl Services; junior entrepreneurship major Grace Gamboa, founder of Reclamation; and junior journalism and mass communication major Maggie Corbitt, owner of Corbitt & Co. Lakeside Apparel and Gear. All competitors also received consultation services with business experts to aid their entrepreneurial efforts.

McDermott, Perry, Gamboa and Corbitt are all members of the Samford Startup student-led business incubator program which aims to provide students with innovative opportunities to fully embrace an entrepreneurial mindset.

Associate Professor Matt Mazzei is the Brock family chair in entrepreneurship and leads the Samford Startup program. He said, “I am proud of all the Samford Startup students selected for this event. We are so thankful for the strong connections and support we receive from our many friends in the Birmingham EO chapter. Their willingness to mentor our student entrepreneurs is a true blessing for these hard-working individuals as they juggle school while launching and growing their businesses. I’m excited for Kaitlin to see where her business goes after receiving this honor, and for all the students who were part of this wonderful event.”

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. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 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.