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Campus Current

The award-winning newspaper of Anne Arundel Community College.

Campus Current

  • At Soapbox Sisters, one of the events for this year's Women's History Month, students will perform speeches and poems by women.
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ESI rewards student entrepreneurs $100,000 at competition

Mason Hood
N’Kobe Turner, a second-year business administration student, pitched his pie business Grandma’s Southern Pies at a competition on Tuesday.

The Entrepreneurial Studies Institute awarded $100,000 in funds to 10 student and alumni entrepreneurs for an annual business competition on Tuesday.

N’Kobe Turner, a second-year business administration student, won $20,000 for his business, Grandma’s Southern Pies.

“The pie has been a thing [in] my family for years and we’ve always talked about making it a business but never really sat down and organized it,” Turner said. “I was under the impression that I was just going to finish school … but I have been challenged to think bigger by the mentors that I have met and connected with during my time here and I really appreciate that because the bigger I think, the more I’m able to help people.”

Turner added, “We’ve donated probably close to $500 to Autism Awareness organizations. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t take the step and decided to step out on faith and start this business.”

The Ratcliffe Foundation, M&T Bank and SCORE Southern Maryland partnered with the AACC ESI to organize and run this year’s $100,000 Business Pitch Competition, where they gave out $75,000 in seed funds and $12,000 in lifetime scholarships to 10 students and alumni to grow their businesses and pay for their education.

“We are really making an impact on our students,” Stephanie Goldenberg, the Entrepreneurial Studies School of Business and Law academic chair, said. “[This event] establishes us as a resource in the county for entrepreneurs … [and help] our students … polish their idea[s] and make it into a reality.”

This is the 20th anniversary of the $100,000 Business Competition, with “over 400” student entrepreneurs aided as a result of participating in the event, according to Goldenberg, the main event organizer.

“We’ve given away $503,000 in funds for our pitch competition winners [since 2004]. So that’s half a million dollars in awards to start and grow businesses,” Goldenberg said. “[Those students] have gone through this experience that has, you know, changed their career … [and] their lives.”

Mackenzie Williams,  another event organizer, said the student entrepreneurs who participate in these competitions are “competent,” “focused” and “driven.”

Williams, a second-year business administration student, said giving away money to students is “the biggest thing.”

“It’s just, like, good money to give out … these are scholarships … [and] money they receive for their business pitch,” Williams said. “Not everybody can pay for big universities.”

Gaetano Ailiff, a first-year undecided student who won $25,000 for his MD Junk and Moving business, a junk removal and moving service, said AACC is “awesome” for giving him this opportunity.

“I was so nervous before going up,” Ailiff said. “I’m so glad I got it off my chest now … I had a great experience.”

Richie Ward, an AACC alumnus who also won $25,000 alongside Ailiff as a part of MD Junk and Moving, said it was a “good opportunity” because his company “can do a better job than these big companies.”

Charles Trainer, winner of a $10,000 reward alongside his wife Amber Trainer, a first-year financial accounting student, for their business The Arena, a leadership academy, said the pitch was a “perfect example” of what they strive for.

“[This is] what it is to be in the arena, right? … So you really want to jump in and grind it out,” Trainer said.

Tyler Loh, an AACC alumnus who won a $5,000 reward alongside Amanda Guimn, an alumna, said they will launch their business, Wvndr Studios, a media production service designed to help small businesses produce content, in the fall with the help of the funds they gained at the competition.

“If this [competition] was here, then my life trajectory wouldn’t be the same at all,” Loh said. “I will always preach back to the Ratcliffe community here.”

Guimn agreed, saying the Ratcliffe community and the business competition “changed my life.”

Jeremiah Batucan, an alumnus who won $6,000 for his Ball At The Mall service, a business that runs a pickleball facility at Annapolis, said Phillip Ratcliffe and Carole Ratcliffe’s “generosity” to AACC is a “testament to how great AACC is.”

Grady Cole, a first-year biology student who won $3,000 alongside Matthew Wallace for their Mycelium Loving business, a mushroom-selling business, said he is “grateful for the competition.”

Tariq Muhammad, a first-year game design student, said the event was “very interesting” and he would like to “attend events like this going forward” to “see the community.”

Kimberly Hernandez, a first-year nursing student, said the event wasn’t “really my interest.”

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