Business Students Win Prize Money for Entrepreneurial Skills


ATLANTA – The finals of the Mercer University's Stetson School of Business and Economics business model competition were held on May 2 in Atlanta, serving as the culmination of the School's second annual Entrepreneurial Festival.

The festival – composed of an elevator pitch competition in November, an entrepreneurship forum in February and the business model competition in May – celebrates free enterprise and is central to Dean Susan P. Gilbert's mission for the School to develop entrepreneurial leaders.

Ten impressive student business models were pared down to five in the semifinal round earlier this year by a panel of judges representing Mercer MBA graduates and the School's Board of Visitors. Of those five finalists, the top two were selected last Saturday to receive prizes of $5,000 and $2,500, presented by Dr. Antonio Saravia, assistant professor of economics and director of Mercer's BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research on Public Policy and Capitalism.

Fatimata Aw, founder of Delices du Soi, won the top prize for her startup company, which imports and sells skincare oil made from the fruit of the baobab, known as “The Tree of Life” because it lives 5,000 years. Her company's product, Baobab 5000, is positioned in the high-growth anti-aging market.

Lorenzo Jackson won second place for Bottom Line Recovery Services, a firm that provides subrogation services for health care practitioners.

The remaining finalists were Lavette Dow-Jones (Crime Punchers), Stafford McCoy (Choosey Smoothie) and Andre Jerry (JustBeeCards).

Three Atlanta-based new venture investors served as the competition's judges. Tarby Bryant is chairman and CEO of Sweetwater Capital Corporation and founder of The Gathering of Angels. Randall Foster is a managing director at Focus Investment Bank, and Akbar Kassam is founder and president of DGG LLC investment firm.

At a luncheon honoring the winners, Dr. Robert Perkins, associate professor of management, presented Mercer's second annual Atlanta Outstanding Entrepreneur Award to Karen Robinson Cope, a serial entrepreneur who has raised over $100 million for her startups. She gave an inspiring keynote address.

Cope, who currently serves as co-founder and senior vice president for business development of LED lighting corporation NanoLumens, has worked tirelessly to spread capital and skills to fight poverty by creating new businesses across the globe. She has contributed frequently to Mercer as a guest speaker and by hosting class visits at NanoLumens.

About the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics

Established in 1984, Mercer University's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics is named for Eugene W. Stetson, a 1901 Mercer graduate and business pioneer who leveraged the first major buyout in corporate history. Over the past 80 years, Mercer has granted over 12,000 business degrees, and many of its graduates hold senior leadership positions in companies around the world. Mercer's business school delivers career-focused business education programs and develops entrepreneurial leaders and responsible global citizens. It holds accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which places it among the top five percent of all top business schools worldwide. Mercer's business school has been recognized by the Princeton Review for “Greatest Opportunity for Minority Students” and “Greatest Opportunity for Women” as well as being one of its “Best Business Schools.” In addition, it has been recognized among the “Top 15 Schools in the Nation for Marketing and Accounting.”

The School offers the following programs: Atlanta (Evening BBA, Full-Time (One-Year) MBA, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Professional MBA, Master of Accountancy, M.S. in Business Analytics), Macon (Traditional BBA and Evening MBA), Douglas County and Henry County (Evening BBA).

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.