SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College juniors Duncan Williams and Grant Wollam can give great advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. After all, in 2018 they won the TerrierStartUP Challenge, a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition held by Wofford’s The Space in the Mungo Center professional development and entrepreneurship program.
The advice may come in handy for the Wofford students pitching their products or services at the third annual TerrierStartUP Challenge, set for 5 p.m. Thursday, April 25, in the volleyball arena of the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium. They will compete for their share of $10,000 in seed money, awarded by a panel of expert judges based on the student pitches.
“The key is really to solve a problem,” says Wollam, a sophomore physics major from Leesburg, Georgia. “If you can do that, that’s how you start a successful company. Ask people if they have similar problems and come up with a solution.”
Wollam and Williams, a sophomore finance and history major from Talbot, Tennessee, came up with a solution – Tech Shelf – a product that won them the top prize of $5,000 in seed money in last year’s competition. Tech Shelf is a wireless charging shelf that students – their primary target market – can safely secure to the wall in their residence halls rooms using pre-attached Command strips.
Since winning last year’s competition, Williams and Wollams have pushed their company further, filing for a limited liability corporation, filing for a patent for Tech Shelf, launching an e-commerce website and hiring a manufacturing company in South Carolina to produce the product mold to enable mass production. They already have received their first 1,000 units, and they are selling the first production run and working on strategic partnerships with colleges and universities to get Tech Shelf into more residence hall rooms. You can visit their website at www.techshelfcharging.com.
The students pitching their products or services in this year’s TerrierStartUp Challenge are:
Vintees – An online store fostering a love of all things vintage while promoting the sustainability of textiles.
Hannah Brown, a first-year student from Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Team Stop – A startup dedicated to making parking easier and more convenient for the trucking industry.
Walker Simas, a sophomore economics major from Spartanburg
AbroadBuddy – A service that eliminates the frustration and stress of studying abroad by making information retrieval more accurate and relevant and that provides a forum for Q&A with student who have been there and know the lay of the land.
Chase Creamer, a first-year student from Duncan, South Carolina
CS Tech – A product that disrupts the portable charging industry by expanding it to laptops, making power available wherever the user is.
Shahraiz Khan, a junior mathematics and physics major with a concentration in applied mathematics from Spartanburg; and Calder Fowkes, a junior physics major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Dragonet Aquatics – A patent-pending feeding device that enables the easy husbandry of Mandarin dragonets, seahorses, wrasse and other exotic fish that are easily accessible and affordable but difficult to maintain because of their diet of small microorganisms called copepods.
Clyde Houk, a first-year student from Edgefield, South Carolina; Alfie Brownless, a first-year student majoring in mathematics from Spartanburg; and Zachary Gottschalk, a first-year student from Spartanburg
Doggie Doingles – An innovative approach to handmade dog toys; Doingles are the everlasting, durable dog toys that provide safety and fun for pets’ playtime.
Sarah-Reily Murphy, a first-year student from Atlanta, Georgia
In addition to the pitch competition, the TerrierStartUP Challenge will feature a Venture Showcase of student products and services. These include:
Luk’s – A lifestyle clothing and apparel company.
Lucas Cerbelli, a junior finance major with a business minor from Villanueva Del Pardillo, Spain
Skyshutter Media – A video production agency specializing in aerial film and photography.
Jeremy Powers, a sophomore fiance major from Spartanburg
Campshare – A sharing economy for outdoor adventure gear in which participants earn money by renting out their unused gear or save money by renting the gear of others.
Spencer Blackwell, a sophomore government major with a business minor from Fort Mill, South Carolina; Landon Gray, a sophomore from Starr, South Carolina; Jeremiah Kubilus, a sophomore finance major from Gilbert, South Carolina; Noah Gadd, a sophomore business economics major from Belmont, North Carolina; and Sam Padula, a junior biology, mathematics and physics major with a concentration in neuroscience from Irmo, South Carolina
She’s Here – A social enterprise aimed at reducing the stigma around menstruation and the number of school days missed by girls due to menstruation in sub-Saharan Africa.
Olivia Groce, a junior finance and Spanish major from Greenville, South Carolina; Ella Patrick, a junior Chinese major from Hilton Head, South Carolina; and Olivia Schraibman, a junior government major with a minor in international affairs from Spartanburg
Set Pace Media – A hyper-optimized social media marketing and video production agency.
Matthew Kirby, a first-year student from Greenville, South Carolina
Judges for the competition are:
Russell D. Cook, manager director of Comporium Ventures, a diversified communications and technology company headquartered in Rock Hill, S.C., where he manages a strategic investment portfolio and identifies and recommends additional investments and acquisitions. A 1983 graduate of Wofford College, Cook is chair of the board of trustees of South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Inc.; a director for Boys Farm in Newberry, S.C.; a member of the South Carolina Council for Innovation Initiatives; a member of the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp.’s Entrepreneurship Committee; and a director for the STEM Development Foundation.
Chris Halligan, a technology executive and entrepreneur who has served as COO for Payzer, a fast-growing SaaS startup in Charlotte, N.C., for the past five years. He also is an operating partner with IDEA Fund Partners, an owner of Mascot Books, a member of Charlotte Angel Fund and an informal adviser to several startups. Previously, Halligan was CEO for a publicly traded gaming firm, co-founded Kieden (which was acquired by Salesforce in 2006) and ran North America for WebMethods.
Dr. Kasie Whitener, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of South Carolina and founder of Clemson Road Creative, a shared services company providing operational support to independent consultants. She hosts the radio show, “Start Something, Columbia!,” and leads the Columbia chapter of 1 Million Cups. In 2018, she co-founded the Women’s Business Center of South Carolina at Columbia College.
The TerrierStartUP Challenge is free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged. Food and beverages will be provided. Go to TerrierStartUP Challenge to register.