CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Over the past few years, Austin Peay State University has been making huge strides in its College of Business. Starting in 2015 with massive renovations to its central building, Kimbrough, the program has continued to expand exponentially with new degree opportunities, internships, staff, and deals that have resulted in partnerships with the Wall Street Journal, Legends Bank, and numerous local businesses.
One of these new expansions just started this year and finally bore fruit, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, in the Gentry Auditorium. In an event that was welcome to all students’ participation and open to the general public, the College of Business hosted the first ever APSU 15k Entrepreneurship Challenge. The event was only able to take place due to the donations of Joe and Cathi Maynard, the support of The Press, and the help of various judges at each level.
This challenge featured teams of students who had to present a business idea and model in a Shark Tank fashion. It aimed for students to realize their creativity and teamwork can provide viable solutions to identified problems with an incentive total cash prize of $15,000 for its winners.
However, this event has been in the making since October, when the teams of two to five students had to first assemble. Together, they came up with their plans and put together a virtual pitch that was posted on October 10. Judges then weeded out the initial teams until only six remained and were notified at the first of the month.
With the contest’s final contenders chosen, the six groups came together for the final showdown where half of them would be eliminated from competition. The other half would receive varied sums of the $15,000.
Clarksville businesses such as The Press and Millan Enterprises, and local entrepreneur Guy Stanford Jr. were represented at the event and helped judge.
Ultimately, the winning teams were Northshore Clarksville Bike Shop, Smart Park, and Ruff Riders.
Northshore Clarksville Bike Shop, pitched by Zaid Malik and Stewart Black, took home the gold, which earned them $9,000, a year lease to The Press, and the Students’ Choice award. Smart Park was pitched by the trio of Drew McIllwain, Kyle Nunn, and Jonah Beamon, and took home the silver award of $4,000. Lastly, Ruff Riders by McKenna Jurmu and Marleigh Heggie got the bronze award of $2,000.
The 15k Entrepreneurship Challenge is expected to return next year with more future business owners in tow.