This year CoLab INC hosted five different LaunchU pitch competitions at different Seventh-day Adventist universities across the country. Participant schools included Oakwood University, Southern Adventist University, Southwestern Adventist University, Walla Walla University and Pacific Union College. Due to the ongoing developments of Covid, CoLab worked with the different universities to hold online, hybrid and in-person events.
During this school year CoLab awarded a total of $50,000 to help promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in the Adventist community and overcome one of the biggest challenges most entrepreneurs face: the lack of funding and mentorship.
Oakwood was our kickstarter event held completely online and integrated as part of OU’s Entrepreneurship Week. Student pitches ranged from a variety of ideas including apparel, photography and online businesses. First place was awarded to Michael Marshall and his company Damaged Goods. Michael has managed to grow his small business during covid by focusing mainly on social media advertising and promoting a positive mindset. Second Place was awarded to Yasmine Lebrun and her up-and-running photography business.
The next LaunchU took place at Southern Adventist University where CoLab worked jointly with the Enactus team to put on a hybrid format of the pitch competition. Students were able to pitch their businesses to a live audience and an online judge panel. First place winner was Darcie Denton who already runs her online business, ThatOneArtist. Darcie has managed to grow her art business with over 49K Youtube subscribers and multiple paid partnerships with renown brands such as Skillshare. Second place winner was Akuna Soap Industry, a nonprofit founded by Giovanni Leonor. This business is a subsidiary of Riverside Farm Institute in Zambia that empowers young women in their communities to make and sell high-quality soap primarily to SDA conferences.
Southwestern Adventist University was an in person event where seven different students pitched their businesses. The ideas ranged from nonprofits supporting SDA school construction to online thrift closets. The first place was awarded to Braxton Molina and his prototype Ripple Gear, which is an online gaming streaming platform that uses virtual reality to make for a unique user experience. Molina plans to use the funds to patent his idea. Second place was awarded to Yu Café by Yu Hu and Matthew Hanson. Yu and Matthew plan to open a student-run café on the SWAU campus with the intent to provide income sources to other students and potentially scholarships to help out their fellow SWAU mates.
Our WWU event was held completely online and had a total of five participants. The business ideas ranged from photography, to community gardens and other product designs. The top two ideas were from Product Design students and their ideas Stud Pro and OneDesk. StudPro is a magnetic stud finder designed by Paul Tucker, Vincent Weibel, Aurora Gault and Montano Mandrie. They will be using the prize to improve the prototype and file for a patent. Eric Nazario and Destinie Stopsen were second place winners with One Desk, a product that empowers creatives who want to improve their productivity by reducing stressful clutter while increasing workspace efficiency.
We concluded our series of LaunchU events this year with another online event for PUC. Three students pitched their ideas and Isaac Mendoza won first place with his project IM Art. His mission is to make dark rooms easily accessible to photo/film enthusiasts. He intends to use the prize money to do renovations on his RV and turn it into a portable darkroom where people can learn more about developing film. Second place was awarded to Elisabeth Unsworth and her business Greens 2 Go which she intends to open in her home state, New Hampshire. Greens 2 Go wants to redefine the unhealthy stereotype surrounding fast food. Her goal is to partner up with gyms initially to provide a healthy and fast alternative for people on-the-go, starting with a smoothie bar and then expanding it to a snack bar and grab-and-go counter.
CoLab is excited to keep promoting entrepreneurship at all the schools and throughout the adventist community next year. If you would like to support our mission, please visit colabinc.org/get-involved/ and see how you can contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem!