On Nov. 15, Covenant College hosted the 6th annual Seed Project Pitch night. Five teams pitched business plans in competition for up to $5,000 in seed money to start or grow their business.
I had the privilege of joining the competition to grow my business, Ms. Maggie’s Gymnastics. Two Brother’s Dairy Farm, managed by Mat Monti, won first prize, an award of $5,000. Ms. Maggie’s Gymnastics and Morgan Sharpe’s Creek Side Flower Farm tied for second place, both winning $2,500.
The competition was started as a continuation of President Brock’s efforts to encourage students to reach for their dreams and seek God in their callings as business owners. Each year the College has funded $10,000 in prizes for student or recent graduates who are seeking to be entrepreneurs.
Leda Goodman, Assistant Director of the Center for Calling & Career, was the main contact for teams in the project. She described the Center’s goal for the Seed Project, “We want to help students identify needs in the community where their gifts can contribute and make a difference.”
In order to qualify for the competition, teams are required to go through a Co-Starters Co-lab class or a similar business planning education program. Morgan Sharpe, owner of Creekside Flower Farm, described her thankfulness for the guidance of others in the process of the competition. “I decided to seek out a number of people that I thought were competent and who could point me in the right direction. Meeting with all of these people has been my favorite part of starting a small business—hearing people's stories and experiences and being encouraged by them,” said Sharpe.
As the teams go through the education programs, they form a business plan for how their business will run. Once they have a working document, the teams submit the plan to the Business Plan Review Committee which is made up of graduates and entrepreneurs from the Chattanooga area. The Committee works with the teams to advise them in editing the plans for optimal success.
There were ten teams who entered the competition, but only five were invited to pitch their ideas at the Seed Project Pitch Event. At the event, the five finalists gave a three minute business pitch to a panel of judges followed by five minutes of questions from the panel. After the pitches, the panel resigned to discuss and make their decision.
All three winners described their immense gratitude for the learning process and the prize money to fund their dreams. The money will go towards business run by Covenant College graduates or students who are working to benefit the Chattanooga area and glorifying God in their calling.
Personally, I was as grateful for the business knowledge gained in the learning process leading up to the event as much as I was for the prize money. The support from business members around the community was outstanding.
Previous winners of the Seed Project include Jacob Snuggs ’14, Taproot Landscaping (2015); Kathryn Allison ’13, Rangemark (2014); Jacob Hutcherson ’13 ProFootballSpot.com (2013); Paul Walters ’13 Redwood Sound (2012); Isaiah Smallman ’11 and Drew Belz '10 Fancy Rhino (2011).
Covenant’s Center for Calling and Career will be hosting a Germination Generator (G2) Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 to help students begin to shape and share ideas for small businesses. This event aims to prep students and encourage them to begin working towards the Seed Project competition in the Fall.