ESI gives out $75,000 at annual Business Pitch Competition


Sam Gauntt

Academic chair of the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute Stephanie Goldenberg, center, speaks at the Business Pitch on Tuesday.

Izzy Chase, Reporter

AACC’s Entrepreneurial Studies Institute gave away $75,000 to eight student businesses during its annual Business Pitch event on Tuesday.

Unity Electricity, run by student Peter Papanicolaou, won the largest prize of $25,000. 

Among the seven other winners were  Mogel’s Amusements, run by student McLain Mogel, with a prize of $20,000, and Save the Day Escape Rooms, run by Sandie Horne, with an award of $18,000.

“This competition is one of my favorite events,” President Dawn Lindsay said at the Business Pitch. “This annual event is a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain real-world experiences … [and] a wonderful way to gain insight and investment funding from very, very charitable people in our community. This program has made dreams come true.”

The event marked the 20-year anniversary of the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute and the Ratcliffe Scholarship, founded by Philip E. and Carol R. Ratcliffe. 

Nineteen students won the $12,000 Entrepreneurs Scholarship at the event, totaling $228,000 in scholarships.

ESI academic chair Stephanie Goldenberg said the scholarship is a big opportunity for students. 

“I just heard from one of our scholarship recipients that she wouldn’t be able to continue school if she wasn’t awarded the scholarship today,” Goldenberg said. “It allows our students who have business ideas and businesses to be able to work on their business while also going to school and achieving their academic dreams.”

Austin Farmer, a first-year computer science student, said the contestants’ confidence stood out the most to him at the event.

“Confidence is a big thing,” Farmer said. “Being confident in your idea, as well as your presentation.”

Nikita Plaisance, a second-year transfer studies student, said she enjoyed the event, even though she didn’t come from a business background.