Inaugural Entrepreneurship Competition at Claflin University Offers Students Experience, Opportunity to Build Their Own Business

Feb 07, 2014

Eleven teams of students will enter Claflin University’s own version of “Shark Tank” when they present their business proposals and ideas at the University’s first-ever Entrepreneurship Business Competition.

Like the popular ABC television show, teams of two to four undergraduate interdisciplinary students who have been working on and perfecting their projects since September will outline plans, offer analyses and prototypes, and showcase their marketing ingenuity for a panel of judges. Those judges will then decide which five teams have the most viable business ideas and will share $10,000 in prize money.

Projects range from high-tech products to those in the service industry. There’s a new nutrition drink, apps and clothing lines. Winning teams will have the opportunity to be mentored and take their ideas to the next level.

Business students are not the only ones involved in the competition, which is open to the public and will be held from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in the Grace Thomas Kennedy Auditorium at Claflin.

“We were really successful in our effort to attract a pool of cross-disciplinary teams,” interim School of Business dean Dr. Tara Saracina said. “We were really looking for people to work together and learn from one another.”

Dr. Robin Davis, assistant professor of management at Claflin and chair of the Business Week committee, said she has seen a marked improvement in the students whose projects were selected.

“I’m really proud of them,” she said. “They’ve been growing and changing and evolving.”

Each team will have 15 minutes to give its multimedia presentation to the judges. Judging the competition are retired real estate entrepreneur and rancher Joseph Sanders, New York-based entertainment lawyer Johan S. Powell, CEO and founder of Education Through Talent Gwendolyn Chisolm, and S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership President and CEO John Irion.

Prize money will range from $300 for fifth place to $5,000 for the top team.

The Entrepreneurship Business Competition is just one of the events taking place during the University’s third annual Business Week, themed “The Next Generation of Global Leaders.” Other highlights include a lecture titled “Business Development: The Hidden Industry” by Lexington County Economic Development Director Chuck Whipple; “The Entertainment Business: The Real Deal” presentation by Powell; a trio of recent Claflin graduates discussing “Preparing for the Real World of Work”; and back-to-back lectures on graduate school by Claflin’s Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Roosevelt Ratliff and S.C. Commission on Higher Education’s Executive Deputy Director of Academic Affairs and Student Services Dr. Karen A. Woodfaulk.

For a complete schedule of Business Week events, visit For more information about the Entrepreneurship Business Competition, contact Davis at 803-535-5685 or

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