MACON – Three teams of students – PeBeAre, Malcontents and Team Rwanda – won prizes in the undergraduate portion of Mercer Innovation Center’s annual Next Big Idea competition.

The competition was modified this year to include an undergraduate competition in Macon this fall and a graduate student competition in Atlanta in the spring.

Undergraduate finalists delivered 10-minute pitches to a live audience and panel of judges Dec. 3 at the Mercer Innovation Center on the Macon campus.

First place in the for-profit division and $2,500 in funding was awarded to PeBeAre (Potential Becomes Reality), a social platform billed as “LinkedIn but for athletes” where young potential athletes can connect, benefit and collaborate with thriving brands and fellow athletes from around the world.

PeBeAre was founded by August Jording, sophomore finance and entrepreneurship double-major from Sweden, who is also a member of Mercer’s men’s golf team, and Petter Hagberg, a fellow collegiate golfer from Sweden, who is double-majoring in business administration and marketing at Campbell University.

Second place in the for-profit division and $1,000 in funding was awarded to Malcontents, an e-commerce brand focused on producing Crocs™ charms that allow people to express themselves and represent where they come from.

Malcontents was founded by former Mercer men’s soccer players Andrew Anyafo and Ricardo Parker. Anyafo, a finance and entrepreneurship double-major, is graduating this semester, and Parker is studying mechanical engineering at Florida Atlantic University.

First place in the nonprofit division and $2,500 in funding was awarded to Team Rwanda, a group of students who worked with a group of Rwandan women during a Mercer On Mission trip and plan to help them sell their handmade products locally and through e-commerce.

The Mercer On Mission team helped the women to create a business plan, marketing plan, brand name and logo and want to help them to take the next step and fulfill their dream of selling their products in America. The brand Agaciro will offer bags, such as purses, totes, laptop cases, duffel bags and backpacks, and jewelry, with 100% of profits going back to the women in Rwanda.

Mercer students on Team Rwanda include Emma Drash, junior international business, marketing and management triple-major; Aaryanna Mercer, junior management and marketing double-major; Martha Corinn Thompson, sophomore holistic child major; Brant Zulauf, junior sports marketing major; and Taj Patterson, senior human resource management major.

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.​