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Skidmore sisters shine in prestigious TCU Values and Ventures pitch competition

Office of Public Relations & Communications | 

Anna Belle and Daisy Skidmore.

Demonstrating exceptional prowess in innovation and entrepreneurship, Lipscomb University's Lila Mae Skidmore, a rising sophomore, and her sister, Anna Belle, a May graduate, secured a top 10 position at the highly competitive Texas Christian University Neeley School of Business Values and Ventures® Competition event this spring. 

This annual competition ranks among the foremost undergraduate pitch competitions globally, drawing participants from colleges and universities from around the world to pitch ideas for conscious capitalism ventures that make a profit while also solving a problem. 

Representing Lipscomb through the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, the Skidmore sisters placed above teams from prestigious universities including Yale, Iowa, Florida State, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Indiana, Iowa State and the host school, TCU. Their achievement marks the third consecutive year Lipscomb has had a team place in the top ten, underscoring Lipscomb’s growing reputation in national entrepreneurial circles.

"To make it to this competition for three straight years, placing in the top 10 each time, for Lipscomb is akin to making the Final Four or Elite Eight in basketball terms for three consecutive years," said Jeff Cohu, associate professor of management in Lipscomb’s College of Business and the center’s executive director. “I’m always proud of all of our student successes, but am particularly proud of this accomplishment as this is significant in the entrepreneurship field.”

The Skidmores have had an entrepreneurial spirit since they were in high school. Anna Belle, who is required to eat a gluten-free diet, was needing something to eat that was gluten-free that would help fuel her for an active running lifestyle that also tasted good. “So we started experimenting with different ways to flavor granola. Every time we took our favorite flavors and turned them into new granola recipes, we said, ‘We Granola’d it!’ So that became our tagline," said Anna Belle.

They launched their business, Granola’d, in June 2021 as the pair began selling homemade gluten-free granola and today they sell online direct-to-consumer through its website as well as in several stores in the Middle Tennessee area. 

Read More: The future is coming up granola for Skidmore sisters

The TCU Values and Ventures competition has a rigorous selection process. Out of 357 applications from universities worldwide (universities may only submit one application) this year, only 40 teams were invited to the semi-finals in Fort Worth. 

Lipscomb has stood out not only for its consistency in performance but also for competing against significantly large universities. "With the exception of John Brown University, we are the smallest and least known institution in the field this year," Cohu noted. "We are also the only school from Tennessee to qualify for this event during this three-year span, while others, including Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, have not made the cut."

The Skidmore sisters' journey in this competition has been particularly notable. 

"What makes me most proud is that these two young ladies took on a field full of high-tech startups from some of the most elite entrepreneurship programs in the country and 'punched above their weight class'," Cohu added. The sisters not only competed with top-tier universities but also became the crowd favorites, according to Cohu.

The string of successes at the TCU Values and Ventures competition began in 2022 with students Aidan Miller and Matt Stewart, followed by Miller and Natalie Blickensdefer in 2023, and now the Skidmores in 2024.

Learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.