Two Wofford College students had a top-five finish in a statewide venture pitch competition and won cash to continue developing their business concept.

Cassie Figueroa ’24 and Alec Schrader ’24 finished fourth in the second annual SC Innovates. They were one of six Wofford teams competing in the 60-team field. Figueroa and Schrader won $750.

“It is very reassuring and exciting to have placed fourth when competing in a statewide competition, especially because with the idea we had last year, we did not even make top five at Wofford College alone (in the Terrier StartUp Challenge), so making it into the top five in a much larger competition validates the potential of our new idea,” says Figueroa, a business economics major from Charlotte, North Carolina. “Our high finish in SC Innovates gives us confidence in the upcoming Terrier StartUp Challenge.”

Figueroa and Schrader’s pitch was for the website Campus Connections, which allows students to offer services like haircuts, photography, oil changes, rides and other services to peers on campus. The website also would allow students to book appointments and pay those performing the services. They’ll also pitch the concept Wednesday evening during the sixth annual Terrier StartUp Challenge.

“We are both entrepreneurs at heart and have various side hustles in our perspective hometowns during the summers,” says Schrader, a biology and finance major from Fredonia, New York.

Schrader started a car detailing company last summer. Figueroa and her mom started Pura V, a company making plant-derived skincare products.

“We both had many ventures and ideas before even meeting each other at Wofford,” Figueroa says.

Last year, they pitched the concept of Deeshed Designs during the Terrier StartUp Challenge. The company would provide flags, banners and decorations for residence hall rooms. They considered it a good learning experience and an idea with potential, but they weren’t as passionate about it.

“With Campus Connections we have more passion than ever and see it expanding on a large scale,” Schrader says. “This idea stemmed from our different experiences as college freshmen last year.”

Schrader was more than 14 hours from his hometown and didn’t have a car on campus during his first year at Wofford. It was challenging to get a haircut or find a ride to the grocery store. Figueroa drove for DoorDash to make extra money, but she often found herself in unfamiliar areas.

Schrader started getting haircuts from a fraternity brother and realized that many students had talents and side hustles. He shared his experience with Figueroa, who is in the Career Center’s Launch program, and they formed a business plan.

“We see Campus Connections expanding to colleges throughout the country as a way for student entrepreneurs to gain experience, boost their resumes and make money while in college,” Figueroa says. “It will also provide students with safe and connected ways to purchase products and services.”

Figueroa and Schrader hope to win a share of the $10,000 Terrier StartUp Challenge prize. Any winnings earned will help them start developing software, incorporate in South Carolina and promote the business to students and college campuses.