Mercer Innovation Center recognizes three teams for ‘Next Big Idea’ business pitches

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Next Big Idea Participants

ATLANTA/MACON – Mercer Innovation Center on April 16 awarded prize money to three teams as part of the virtual Next Big Idea Competition to help student entrepreneurs launch their businesses.

The $4,000 first-place prize was won by VTasteCakes, a vegan bakery owned by Aneesha Reddicks, a Master of Science in Business Analytics student, and Jasmyn Reddicks.

VTasteCakes operates from a commercial kitchen in Metro Atlanta and provides bespoke cakes, cupcakes, muffins, cookie dough and cookies for curbside pickup and delivery. The company aims to be a social advocate for sustainable, natural and freshly baked locally prepared desserts that can be enjoyed by those who may have food allergies and/or a dietary preference that excludes eggs, dairy or animal byproduct.

Two $1,000 second-place prizes were won by AB Glitz and Solar Turtle.

AB Glitz is owned by Amber Byrd, a senior pursuing her Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing. The multipurpose business is currently focused on the hair industry and a new product, the BraidAid, which is a tool used to part and texture hair.

Solar Turtle is owned by senior electrical engineering major Trenton Williams and senior environmental engineering major Spencer Lowe. The company intends to streamline alternative power by focusing on solar power generation that tracks and repositions itself to the sun to provide enough power for customer needs, both protecting the ecosystem and empowering customers.

The three winning teams were among 14 teams competing, including seven finalists who made 10-minute business pitches to judges Petrina Bloodworth, immediate past president of OUT Georgia Business Alliance; Emma Foulkes, managing partner of Greenwood Wealth Management; Luke Kolbie, founder of Kingfisher Leatherworks; and Dr. Vijaya Subrahmanyam, associate dean and C. Ben Harnsberger Professor of Finance.

Other finalists included BirdBrain, The Global Exchange Company, Patter and TruHLTH.

This year’s competition was organized by Dr. Briana Stenard, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship; Stephanie Howard, director of Mercer Innovation Center; and Helena Berry, student marketing intern and a marketing and international business major in the Bachelor of Business Administration program.

About the School of Business

Established in 1984, Mercer’s School of Business is named for Eugene W. Stetson, a 1901 Mercer graduate and business pioneer who leveraged the first major buyout in corporate history, and his grandson Robert F. (Bob) Hatcher, a Macon businessman, longtime supporter, trustee and former board chair for the University. 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 in order to develop innovative leaders who are 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 and Online BBA, Full-Time (Day) MBA, Evening MBA, Online MBA, Master of Accountancy, M.S. in Business Analytics), Macon (Traditional BBA, Evening MBA, Health Care MBA, and Innovation MBA), Henry County (Evening BBA). For more information, visit business.mercer.edu.

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