Lipscomb’s Center for Entrepreneurship receives LaunchTN grant in support of Kittrell Pitch Competition

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One of Lipscomb University’s premier programs to develop the next generation of innovative entrepreneurial leaders, the Kittrell Pitch Competition, received a $5,000 grant from Launch Tennessee this spring.

LaunchTN, a public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in Tennessee, kicked-off its statewide University Venture Challenge this March with 17 grants to universities with entrepreneurial pitch competitions, including Lipscomb.

“The LaunchTN grant money will be used to increase prize money and marketing efforts to ultimately expand the reach of the Kittrell Pitch Competition,” said Joe Ivey, executive director of Lipscomb’s Center for Entrepreneurship housed in the College of Business. “Our plan is to get other students interested in competing by offering elevator pitch competitions to whet their appetites for the final competition in the spring.

“The Kittrell Pitch Competition allows us to come alongside our students as they are creating their own businesses and developing innovative ideas and plans for their business models.”

Lipscomb’s annual Kittrell Pitch Competition is funded by Marty Kittrell, an alumnus and member of Lipscomb University’s Board of Trustees. Kittrell provided $20,000 for the 2015-16 event in honor of his father, William, who was a 1941 graduate of Lipscomb. The Kittrell Pitch Competition gives current students the chance to create their own business models and gain experience pitching their ideas to judges who represent future investors.

“Our second-annual Kittrell Pitch Competition is off to a great start as we had the first qualifying round this past November and are gearing up for our second qualifying round and final competition next week,” said Jerry Stubblefield, entrepreneur-in-residence for the Center of Entrepreneurship. “We are very excited about the momentum this competition has generated within the Lipscomb community as well as the outside support it has garnered this year.”

On March 11, Launch Tennessee awarded Lipscomb University’s Kittrell Pitch Competition one of 17 grants awarded to 10 universities.

The goal of the statewide Venture Challenge is to create a more connected entrepreneurial community by engaging existing university programs, and has offered up to $5,000 per competition.  

“It is a great honor to have received this grant from LaunchTN in support of our Kittrell Competition,” said Ray Eldridge, dean of Lipscomb’s College of Business. “The Center for Entrepreneurship within the College of Business works tirelessly to give students opportunities to expand their entrepreneurial spirits, and we look forward to what this new relationship with LaunchTN will provide in terms of stretching our students creatively.”

On Nov. 18, eight Lipscomb students pitched their business ideas to three judges for a $2,500 first place, $1,500 second place and $1,000 third place cash prize within the first qualifying round.

The winners of the first round secured a spot in the final competition and include: Sweet Bites, a bakery that promises gluten-free foods, without the gluten-free taste; Fitness by Verse, a workout with a bible study; and Ed. Pack Global, a backpack company that for every backpack sold, a donation is made towards funding female education both in developing countries and in the United States.

On April 4, the second qualifying round will take place, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Lipscomb's Stowe Hall.

The final competition will take place on Wednesday, April 6 at 6 p.m. where teams will compete for a first place prize of $10,000 cash, advising from Lipscomb's Center for Entrepreneurship and a mentor with relevant industry experience; a second place prize of $3,000 cash and personal advising from Lipscomb's Center for Entrepreneurship; and a third place prize of $2,000 cash and personal advising from Lipscomb's Center for Entrepreneurship. 

“In addition to schools being awarded $5,000 to enhance their annual competitions, LaunchTN is also offering an opportunity for winners from the past two school years of the Kittrell Competition to apply for its Statewide Venture Challenge,” said Ivey. “We are grateful for this opportunity to not only receive funding but also outside opportunities for our students to take their business models to the next level.”

There will be four company categories available for LaunchTN’s Statewide Venture Challenge including commercializable technology, lifestyle business, social enterprise and tech-enabled, with a winner being selected from each category.

Winners will be announced in May and will receive a free ticket, travel stipend and recognition at LaunchTN’s 36|86 conference in June.

The other Tennessee-based schools awarded a LaunchTN grant include: Vanderbilt University; University of Tennessee Knoxville; University of Memphis; Middle Tennessee State University; Tennessee Technology University; Tennessee State University; University of Tennessee Research Foundation; University of Tennessee, Chattanooga; University of Tennessee, Martin and Sewanee, The University of the South.

For more information on Lipscomb’s Kittrell Pitch Competition visit: www.lipscomb.edu/entrepreneurship/kittrell-pitch-competition.