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Swimming with Sharks: Bay Path presents its Eighth Annual Business Pitch Competition

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On April 11, ten eager entrepreneurs from Dr. Gillian Palmer’s Business 201 Entrepreneurship course showed up to pitch their ideas and compete for a top prize of $400 at the 8th Annual Business Pitch Competition, produced by Bay Path’s Women in Business Club. The competition is the culmination of a 14 -week course that encourages students to generate ideas and then develop, research, and ultimately present them as viable businesses to a panel of judges, a la the popular business pitch reality show, Shark Tank.

“Our learners get their own ‘Shark Tank’ experience,” said Dr. Palmer. “Our judges are Bay Path alums who are all small business owners and big supporters of our students. They listen to the pitches; assess each one to determine how realistic, feasible, and marketable the idea is, and then reward the top pitches.”

Judges Kelly Partridge, G'16, owner and founder of the Grati Shop and Grati Consulting, two mission-driven businesses that connect commercial ventures to non-profit causes; Sunni McCoy, G'18, a seasoned leader in corporate processes and culture transformation and the owner of The McCoy Approach To Corporate Readiness; and Dee Gore, ‘06, G'09 senior vice president at Propark and the owner/ founder of Wilbraham Candle challenged participants to share strategies for profit and growth.

“The course in entrepreneurialism has been redesigned to be accessible to learners from all disciplines and backgrounds, who bring conceptual ideas and a passion for working to make those a reality. This year, learners from a variety of majors such as marketing, medical science, biology, accounting shared a wide range of creative ideas that reflected what they’re learning and thinking about and the ways they want to impact the world.” noted Dr. Palmer.  

Junior marketing major Elizabeth Duclos took the top prize for her retail concept, Wicker & Stone, a furniture and homewares store devoted to high quality vintage and used goods, provided with personalized design services. Duclos explained, “What makes Wicker & Stone stand out from our competitors is that we're not just a home decor boutique and we're not just a thrift store. What sets us apart is our specialized design services. And also, the knowledge that all of our products are sustainable. We're putting all our pieces back into the hands of consumers, and none of them are ending up in a landfill.”

Other high scoring concepts from the night included “Hidden Gems,” an off-the-beaten path travel app; “Free to Live,” an interactive ‘smart cane’ for visually impaired people; and “Meraki You Nails,” an appointment booking app for nail salons that allows customers to upload their nail art designs when they make their nail appointments.

“After 14 weeks of preparation and practice, watching the students present their incredible ideas makes my heart soar,” said Dr. Palmer. “They’ve devoted an entire semester to brainstorming, writing business plans, developing marketing and sales strategies, and learning about emerging technologies, and then, of course, polishing their presentation skills to bring it all together. This is not easy, and I’m always blown away by their dedication and grit. I am so proud of their accomplishments.”