By Noah Ravan ‘23 

Zion Sampson ’26, a biology major from Aiken, South Carolina, placed first in the nonprofit track of the Southern Conference’s Entrepreneurship Challenge. Sampson won $4,000 to use towards his venture, Pre-Dent & Prevent, to provide dental care to underserved communities.

Tommy Tessien ’26, an undeclared major from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, competed in the contest’s for-profit contest and advanced to the final round by placing in the top four in his category.

A pair of first-year students will represent Wofford College in the SoCon Entrepreneurship Challenge on March 31 at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

Zion Sampson ’26, an undeclared major from Aiken, South Carolina, will present a nonprofit business that provides dental care to underserved communities.

“We plan to distribute dental care packages with floss, toothpaste, toothbrushes and a dental scaler, which will allow people to clean their teeth more thoroughly than just a toothbrush,” says Sampson. “We want to provide these resources to underserved and underrepresented areas of Spartanburg. There are a lot of people who don’t have access to traditional dental care.”

Tommy Tessien ’26, an undeclared major from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will present a for-profit business called Perfect Curb. 

“I looked around my community and there was trash everywhere. It was especially bad around the mall,” says Tessien. “No one wanted to shop there.”

Tessien saw an opportunity to improve the appearance of area businesses and help the environment.

“With Perfect Curb, we plan to pick up the litter around local businesses,” says Tessien. “We’re aiming to improve their curb appeal and remove some of the trash from the area.”

Sarah Butler, the manager of the Launch Program at Wofford, has helped Sampson and Tessien prepare for their competition.

“Before we could start putting a presentation together, we did some background work,” says Butler. “As first-year students, they haven’t taken many business classes. We needed to make sure that they had the tools to succeed.”

Butler believes that entrepreneurship should be an option for all of Wofford’s students.

“We’re unique at Wofford in that we believe that entrepreneurship is a viable choice for our students after graduation,” says Butler. “We want to make our students aware of that, and help them develop an entrepreneurial skillset.”

Butler says the Launch Program helps students to be resilient, to think critically and to bounce back from failures. 

“We want students to be flexible enough to realize that if something isn’t working, they can pivot to something else,” she says “That’s entrepreneurship.”