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Student entrepreneurs pitch their business proposals
Bull City Pitch awards students for inventiveness and innovation
Published Friday, April 27, 2018
by Freda Freeman, Correspondent

DURHAM – The founders of M Duo Creations (left) will use the $1,000 they won in the Bull City Pitch competition to build a website to drum up more sales for their greeting card business. Hillside High School students’ Milton Griffin, 17, and brother Mitchell, 14, placed first in the for-profit category.

The Griffin brothers started their business two years ago when their mother wanted a card to send to a client who was battling cancer but couldn’t find one to express what she wanted to say. They designed a card with a personal and meaningful message, thus launching their business. Their handcrafted cultural, inspirational, and survivor cards are sold at Exotique boutique.

Notices were sent to all Durham public high schools in March inviting students to participate in the pitch competition. To enter, students put together a video of a business proposal. During a program Tuesday at American Underground, students presented their proposals, explaining their product or service, how it would be sold or distributed, and who would be their competitors. The event sponsors/partners were My Brother’s Keeper Durham, Square 1 Bank, a division of Pacific Western Bank, and the Latino Credit Union.

Two winners were selected in the for-profit category, and two were selected in the social enterprise or nonprofit group. First-place winners were awarded $1,000, and second place received $500. All were rewarded with free bank accounts.

Edmund Lewis, manager of My Brother’s Keeper Durham, and Dee McDougal, of Square 1 Bank, started Bull City Pitch to support local schools and tap into the creative ideas of youth.

“We have to listen to our young people,” Lewis said. “They’re smarter and they’re wiser, in some ways. They’re creative and innovative and thinking of alternative ways of doing things that we take the longer route to do.”

Lewis said he wished such a program existed when he was in high school.

“Just imagine, when in high school, if I had the opportunity to pitch an idea that I always thought about doing, and had the support and financial backing and didn’t have to come out of my pocket. All I had to do was utilize technology and show up,” he said.

The goal of Bull City Pitch is to help students see their ideas through to fruition. To facilitate that, students were assigned a business professional to help guide them through the process.

Tavia Jackson, who works for Coca-Cola, was the adviser for Jordan High students’ Jonathan Piccillo and Benjamin Wroton, who won second place in the for-profit group for Icy Boy Drinks, which makes a liquid soluble pod that instantly cools drinks.

“I grew up in the local community, Durham and went to Hillside, and there was nothing like this, nothing to inspire young entrepreneurs and talk about the nuts and bolts of businesses,” Jackson said. “I love the idea of the Bull City Pitch because it allows students to see how they go toward investors, how they take their idea to the next level, and how they get funding for it.”

Cam’s Closet, started by Northern High students’ Patric Harris, Cameron Traylor, and Martin Hill, won first place in the social enterprise category. The proposed nonprofit organization will provide clothes and school supplies for underprivileged children.

Northern High Assistant Principal Xavier Wallace said he is extremely proud of his students’ hard work. “Cam’s Closet is going to be a great organization moving forward,” Wallace said. “There are many students all over the world, but especially in Durham, who need confidence through school clothing and confidence through apparel, and Cam’s Closet is going to work to help solve that problem.”

Tiffany Romo, Sonia Monterroza, and Ahmir Nicholas, of Southern School of Energy and Sustainability, placed second in the social enterprise group for iHEART For Children, a proposed nonprofit that offers art therapy for children who have experienced traumatic events, such as school shootings, domestic violence or natural disasters.

The other participants were Dymir Watson and Reginald Wiggins, who started Hornet Express, a lunch delivery service for students, faculty, and staff at Hillside High, and Northern High students’ Daniel Holbert and Mateo Mitchell, of Horizon Enterprises, who created the Newtonian Illusion stress ball.



Great article! Good to see a program to help young people move their concepts for entrepreneurship beyond the think tank to reality
Posted on April 27, 2018

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