5 Ways an Existing Business Could Benefit a Pitch Competition

by Evie Somogyi, marketing intern and senior marketing student, Mike Cottrell College of Business

When you think of a pitch competition, you probably think of start-ups — and the show Shark Tank. However, a pitch competition isn’t solely for startups or the contestants of Shark Tank. In fact, pitch competitions pose a great opportunity for all entrepreneurs, even those with existing businesses. Here are 5 ways that your business could benefit from a pitch competition:

  1. Gain funding

Have you thought about expanding your business, but you don’t want to get a loan? A pitch competition is the perfect way for you to gain additional funding — no strings, banks, or loans attached.

  1. Rethink your business

As an entrepreneur, it is critical to keep your customer at the forefront of your mind. However, it is also easy to lose sight of your value proposition and why you do what you do. Through the pitch creation process, you will look at your business from many different angles. In turn, this will allow you to rethink the value that you are bringing to your customer — as well as why your business is in existence in the first place.

  1. Gain new mentors

The organizations that run pitch competitions are filled with potential mentors. Many of them have started businesses of their own and are willing to give advice to fellow entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the connections that your mentors have will allow you to further grow your network.

  1. Gain new perspective

As human beings, it is in our nature to surround ourselves with like-minded people. As an entrepreneur, it is important to surround yourself with many different types of people who can bring new perspectives to the table. By participating in a pitch challenge, you will meet other entrepreneurs with varying perspectives that will help you grow and evolve your business.

  1. Create some buzz

Participating in a pitch challenge creates free publicity for your business. The investment groups that hold pitch competitions also invest in media coverage. Often times, newspapers, magazines, and TV stations cover stories on pitch competitions.

Are you ready to grow and evolve your business? Enter for a chance to win $10,000: https://ung.edu/center-entrepreneurship-innovation/startitup-challenge/index.php


Cottrell MBA Spotlight: James Welch

In the Cottrell MBA program, we have working professionals that come from a variety of companies, including James Welch, Master Data Lead at The Coca-Cola Company.

James is currently a contract employee in charge of coordinating data loads with the Coke One North America team to ensure that all data is accurately loaded in SAP. He also works with bottlers to understand their data requirements. Furthermore, he creates cross company project plans and ensures that project milestones are complete and in alignment with the master transition plan.

James decided to pursue an MBA for both personal and professional development. When asked why he chose UNG, he replied, “as a busy working professional, who is still seeking a classroom environment, the Cottrell MBA was a perfect fit. The campus is within twenty minutes of my home, and classes are held twice a week, minimizing the days I take away from my home life.” James also knew several of the past graduates and he witnessed the value that the MBA added to their career.

Thus far, James has had a very positive experience with the Cottrell MBA program. His professors have been very good at taking the material and applying it in real world settings. He has gained a lot of value from group projects that “apply skill sets in real world situations.” He is also finding a new perspective when it comes to courses like accounting, which he thought to be fairly dry as an undergraduate. His professor, Dr. Best, was great at getting his accounting class engaged in the material.

When we asked James how he has been able to utilize what he has learned so far, a particular class stood out to him: Leadership. While taking Dr. Walker’s class, James was able to take away many new skills and insights on how to engage with different people. He has used his new skills “to build on his relationships and strengthen his ability to motivate across different company teams.” He now has an increased understanding of their “different motivations as well as the objectives they are operating under.”

In addition to the classroom experience, Welch is thankful for the networking opportunities he’s found through the Cottrell MBA. Beyond just the various networking opportunities available through the MBA, James has built new relationships with his classmates, providing different viewpoints, and networking with the College’s professors. Dr. Ruben Boling, director of the College’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is helping him develop his personal brand.

After graduation, James hopes to continue to grow his career. In the short term, he is seeking a position as a planning manager or a supply chain manager. In the long term, he hopes to continue his education and potentially teach at the collegiate level one day. James believes that his “MBA will help to continue to open new doors.”

Graduate Spotlight: Frederyck Odom

Upon graduation in May of 2015, Frederyck Odom had already found the perfect job. After searching for available positions during his senior year, Odom knew he was looking for a career in sales with a company that promoted from within and that believed in professional development of its employees.

The organization that most interested him was SAS, one of the world’s leading business analytics firms.

Odom didn’t waste any time. In June of 2015, Frederyck left Georgia for Cary, North Carolina to spend the next six months in the SAS Sales Academy. Now, he is located in Austin, TX and serves as an Associate Account Executive for SAS.

Regarding his experience at UNG, Odom says, “I use something that I learned at UNG every day. Discipline was one of the core values instilled in me and with the autonomy that my position provides, discipline has become a key to my success.” In addition to discipline, Odom touts a number of specific business classes as that have had an impact on his career including international business: “My international business class was such a great start to where I am now. Working at SAS provides a number of opportunities for global exposure and because of that class, I have a solid foundation.”

Odom says that he knows no other university that can provide the combination of leadership, confidence and professionalism skills that can be obtained at UNG.

“Proud doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel as a graduate of the Mike Cottrell College of Business at UNG,” says Odom. “I grew in every aspect of my life at UNG and it taught me what it means to be a man of honor and integrity.”

MBA Capstone Leads to Board Nomination

The Cottrell MBA provides a great deal of opportunity for students to extend their knowledge of business and to network with business leaders in the regional community. Last week, we talked with Patrick Higingbotham, 2014 Cottrell MBA grad and financial coordinator at Wilson Orthodontics in Gainesville, GA about his experience in the Cottrell MBA and his recent nomination to the Gateway Domestic Violence Center board.

Why did you want to pursue your MBA?

I wanted professional development opportunities and I wanted to offer my employer more than just what I was able to do without my MBA.

Tell us about your capstone project.

Our initial task was to explore the feasibility of expanding thrift store operations and adding a third location for Gateway Domestic Violence Center in Gainesville. We approached the project by first examining existing financials and currently operating stores seeking opportunities for improvement. We also reviewed academic literature that specifically looked at not-for-profit store profitability as well as visited successful thrift stores looking for best practices.

My role in that effort was to assist in examining the key metrics for each of their existing stores to see if we could “do more with less” and improve profitability with minimal capital expenses.

After your presentation, did Gateway Domestic Violence Center implement your recommendations and if so, were they successful?

Yes, they did. I don’t have specific details on the success but the feedback we received is that upon implementation of several of our suggestions, one of the thrift stores saw a “significant increase in daily sales” starting with the first day the store re-opened for business. The results were so significant that a small group of board members have created a sub-committee to establish a plan to implement our recommended changes at the other thrift store.

That’s great! So, after graduation, how were you invited to be on their board of directors?

The director of Gateway Domestic Violence Center reached out to me personally to let me know how successful they had been in implementing our recommendations and I was offered a position on Gateway’s Board of Directors and accepted in December 2014.

So, now that it’s 2015, has your MBA already been beneficial to you and your career?

Yes. I found the program to be beneficial, rewarding, and challenging. It was beneficial to me on a personal level. Without the Cottrell MBA, I most likely would have never been approached to serve on Gateway’s board. It has opened doors for many opportunities beyond those that are available on a linear career path. It has helped me broaden my horizons as well as given me the ability to sharpen my focus on smaller, seemingly mundane details that make large impacts when examined more closely.

For more information on the Cottrell MBA, visit our website or register for an upcoming information session.

Cottrell MBA: Day One Retreat

Students in the Cottrell MBA class of 2016.
Students in the Cottrell MBA class of 2016.

As the fall semester begins, students in the newly formed cohort have been meeting together as they prepare for their journey into the Cottrell MBA program. Last weekend, the 2016 cohort participated in the Cottrell MBA Day One Retreat. When students arrived on the Cumming campus Friday afternoon, they were greeted by the Cottrell MBA admin team, introduced to their fellow cohort members and were welcomed into the Cottrell MBA family. This cohort wasted no time in connecting with their fellow teammates and future classmates. They progressed through the weekend displaying teamwork and acting as a cohesive unit ready for a challenge!

Saturday evening, as the retreat was coming to a close, students gathered with faculty, staff, and guests for a time of celebration. One of the guests was a 2010 Cottrell MBA graduate – the Cottrell MBA’s first graduating class!

ColetteColette Cochran Hollifield, Operations Associate at Sullivan and Schlieman Wealth Management (SSWM), reflected on her experiences and remembered the retreat for the 2010 cohort just “like it was yesterday.” She went on to express her gratitude for the impact it had on her life.

“This program really shaped me into the business woman that I am today…I was being inspired to become a master of business. You are going to be empowered with knowledge in this program: take it and run with it!,” Hollifield said.

Colette also spoke of the faculty and staff and how willing they were to help and their belief in the students.

In closing, she shared “over the course of the past several years working with SSWM I have had the opportunity to grow in my position and be a part of growing our brand.” Colette was chosen to help open the first branch office outside of the home office and attributes this opportunity to the “great foundation built during the Cottrell MBA program.”