Aspiring entrepreneurs wow potential investors at Mercer’s First Pitch Friday


ATLANTA — Mercer University’s Stetson-Hatcher School of Business recently hosted the University’s inaugural First Pitch Friday event on the Atlanta Campus. The event provides underrepresented student business founders with live pitch experience and on-the-spot feedback from leading venture capital investors across the Southeast.

“We were proud to host First Pitch Friday University at Mercer University in its inaugural year,” said Dr. Briana Sell Stenard, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship in Mercer’s Stetson-Hatcher School of Business. “It is a part of our mission to support student founders, and this program provides a wonderful opportunity to get students to experience pitching their ideas and receiving feedback from high-quality investors.”

Four representatives from prominent venture capital firms judged the competition: 

  • Carson Cromartie, senior associate, SiliconRoad Ventures
  • Stefanie Karwoski, manager of digital innovation, Catalyst by Wellstar
  • William Leonard, investor, Valor Ventures
  • Hannah Turner, program manager, TechStars

Four students were selected to participate. They each had five minutes to pitch their ideas followed by five minutes for questions from the judges.

  • Karah Lindsey pitched her company BrellaPack, Mercer MBA (recent winner of Oglethorpe’s Business Pitch Competition)
  • Robert Sizemore pitched his company Sizemore LLC, Mercer BBA (recent winner of Mercer’s Undergraduate Next Big Idea Competition) 
  • Monea Shepherd pitched her company All Cheers, Mercer MBA (finalist in the Mercer Elevator Pitch Competition)
  • Benjamin Tan pitched his company Psyntel, Mercer MS in Clinical Health (Mercer’s representative and a finalist in the TiE University Pitch Competition) 

Benjamin Tan, with his mental health software start-up Psyntel, was the winner of the judges award and the audience award. 

First Pitch Friday University winner Ben Tan presenting his idea

“In laying the groundwork for the company, we needed guidance and advice on everything, from capital raise to networking and community support,” Tan said. “We found all of that at First Pitch Friday. Interacting with fellow entrepreneurs during the competition made us feel a sense of community and pride.”

Tan will move on to represent Mercer at the Innov8gA multi-school pitch competition on April 11 at the University of Georgia with a prize of $15,000. 

About First Pitch Friday

First Pitch Friday was founded in 2018 by entrepreneur and venture investor, Christy Brown. Christy’s desire was to provide women with a foundation and safe space to pitch their companies for venture funding. First Pitch Friday has enjoyed a partnership with Venture Atlanta, led by CEO, Allyson Eman since 2020. This event has become an incredible funnel for leading female founders to be selected to present at Venture Atlanta. In 2023 Emory University & TiE Atlanta joined as partners expanding First Pitch Friday to the university student population around the State of Georgia to open up opportunities to pitch in front of the best VCs in the Southeast.