ATLANTA/MACON – Mercer University’s Stetson-Hatcher School of Business awarded a total of $1,000 in prize money for three business ideas presented during Mercer Innovation Center’s Elevator Pitch Competition held Oct. 13 via Zoom.

Typically around two minutes long, elevator pitches display the ability of an entrepreneur to have a business conceptualized so concisely and effectively that he or she could walk into a hypothetical elevator, meet a potential investor and convey the essence of his or her business by the time the elevator reaches the 20th floor, so that the investor would be interested enough to schedule another meeting to learn more. The competition allows students to think through an idea and decide if it is something they want to pursue.

Mercer Innovation Center’s goal is to support student entrepreneurs through mentorship and funding, and this competition accomplishes both by providing students feedback on their ideas and some startup money to help get those ideas off the ground.

The competition, open to all students on all Mercer campuses, included 60 individuals or teams who submitted video pitches.

The submissions were narrowed to 16 finalists, who each presented virtually to a panel of judges, including Mac Byrdon, CEO of Bear Food LLC; Emma Foulkes, founder of Collective Wealth Partners; John Wilson Gordon, lecturer of finance at Mercer; Petrina Bloodworth, director of the Office of Internal Compliance at Atlanta Public Schools; Dr. Ronald Tsang, assistant professor of accounting at Mercer; and Heaven Whitby, director of Startup Macon.

Coale Cookware kettle design
Patrick Tweel won first place for his patented technology, Coale Cookware, which offers consumers the first ever fully-insulated induction tea kettle.

First place and a $500 prize was awarded to Patrick Tweel, an MBA student with a concentration in innovation and entrepreneurship on the Atlanta campus, for his patented technology, Coale Cookware, which offers consumers the first ever fully-insulated induction tea kettle. Targeted at an exploding market, his attractive design is safer and more efficient than leading competitors providing an overall better user experience. 

Two finalists tied for second place and were each awarded a $250 prize.

Chloe Paulk, a freshman BBA student majoring in marketing on the Macon campus, pitched Cake it with Chloe, a Cottage Foods-licensed and award-winning baking business established in 2019 in a small, rural South Georgian town. The business features various types of cakes and desserts, with the addition of gluten-sensitive options. Being a gluten-free individual allowed Paulk to recognize the underserved market of those with food intolerances and created a passion within her to reach that market. At Cake it with Chloe, she believes that everyone deserves a piece of cake on their birthday, no matter their food intolerance.

Cassandra Hopkins, Julie Mai and Elizabeth Shockley, a team of online BBA students majoring in management, pitched Bundle Thrift, a service that ships large bundles of gently used children’s clothes, toys, shoes and books on a basis of the customer’s choosing at a very low cost. Their business model is bulk items conveniently shipped directly to consumers to save busy parents time and money while contributing to sustainable efforts. 

“I am proud of all the competitors. They gave practiced and professional pitches of original ideas,” said Dr. Briana Stenard, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship, who served as a faculty adviser for the competition. “We had wonderful collaboration from across campuses with great submissions and winners from both the Atlanta and Macon campuses. They made it tough on the judges to choose winners.”

Dr. Marko Horn, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship, and Stephanie Howard, director of the Mercer Innovation Center and lecturer of marketing, also served as faculty advisers for the competition.

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