Naznin Aktar’s pitch to open a store called “Peace,” to provide immigrant women with affordable clothing and free English tutoring won over the panel of executives who served as judges and took first place in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s competition for Macomb students, with the finals held April 24 at Center Campus.
Aktar, who is studying chemical engineering and food science and came to the U.S. from Bangladesh, received $5,000, donated by First State Bank, which she intended to use to lease store space and purchase inventory.
Receiving the second-place award of $3,000 was Teron Varner, a global supply chain management major, who successfully pitched his concept for Devine C.U.T.S., a mobile hair salon. Receiving third-place ($1,000) and the audience choice ($430) awards was Lauren Williams, a business major, who will use the funds to start up “The Tomorrow Project” to provide free presentations to high school and college students about depression, suicide and other mental health issues.
“The process of working with all the contestants, whether they won prize money or not, is just the beginning,” said Derrin Leppek, director the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, of the first-ever pitch competition. “We intend to keep working with each of these students as a resource for advice, mentorship and instruction as they move forward with accomplishing their dreams.”