Professor giving a lecture to students in old main
Wofford students showcase ideas at Impact and Launch competition

By Lynne P. Shackleford
For the Herald-Journal

Ten finalists for Wofford College's Impact and Launch competition had three minutes to convince five top judges that their idea deserved a nod.

After that, they were quizzed on why they thought their concept was worthy of a combined $10,000 cash award, working space in The Iron Yard, consultant and creative services and business evaluation.

The competition was tough Saturday night as an audience gathered for an evening of pitches from five Impact students on their ideas to make the community — or world — a better place. They heard Ashley O'Cain, the founder of Global Glucose who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 2001, talk about plans to provide glucose meters and expensive test strips to people in Africa.

Type I diabetes is manageable, O'Cain said, if people have accurate blood sugar readings.

"That's tough, though, for people who are worried about feeding their family," she said.

Ashlynn Turner, a biology major, already has seen unmotivated high schoolers find new confidence through outdoor adventures. With mentors, Turner coordinates kayaking, rock climbing and other activities for teenagers who need an encourager.

"Underprivileged children are challenged to fit in and maintain society's standards," she said. "They feel uncool when they try their hardest, but with the right type of motivation, we show them how they can do their best and feel their best."

Katherine Buchanan, a French major who will graduate in 2017, founded the Purple Scarf Society — a society led by Wofford College women for other women to focus on professional development and networking. The six-week program emphasizes team-building and social skills.

Chelsey Lawrence, Stacey Morgan and Parker Johnson founded the Get Moving Campaign, a campaign at Arcadia and Lone Oak elementary schools designed to combat the childhood obesity epidemic. Through fun activities and games, volunteers coach children weekly, but Lawrence said the goal is to expand the program to all Spartanburg schools.

Kulsoom Haq, a history and French major, has had success with her Fantasyland concept. More than 850 underprivileged children in Spartanburg County come to the Wofford College campus for a day of magic. Volunteers, who have been through training, dress up like Disney characters and interact with the children, and through Wofford dining services, they get a Disney-themed meal.

The students told the judges what their perceived weaknesses are, as well, and got sage advice from the panel, which included Nate Harceg of Wal-Mart, Alexis Lamster of Carrot Creative, John Thornton of Thunder Enterprises, Nick Tippmann of Nibletz Media and Chad Williamson of Noble Impact.

After the presentations, the audience had an opportunity to view other entrants before heading back to the Mungo Center for the final five pitches from the Launch program. The Launch program at Wofford helps students launch and develop their own business ideas.

Mitchell Saum of Swell Shades: Swell Shades are sunglasses made of all-natural bamboo so they're lightweight, floatable and cost about $80.

Beach Cakes is the concept of Meghan Cornnell, who wants healthy and tasty alternatives to classic American desserts. All Cornnell's ingredients are plant-based and all-natural.

Moody's Wofford Wash is Billy Moody's idea for a student-run laundry service that currently has five employees. Moody's collects, washes and folds all laundry, and in about 1½ years, it has washed 700 loads.

Mason Cantey's concept is Rent A Bindle, an affordable opportunity for families and college students to rent tents, sleeping bags and other camping equipment so they don't have to invest to go camping.

Hunter Lifchez's concept is Healthy AL-TURN-ATIVES, a food-vending service to offer healthy snacks, such as nuts and other small vending items, to the community.

The Space Launch and Impact winners

Launch Winners

First Place: Swell Shades ($5,000 and legal consultation services from Robert Merting Law Offices)

Second Place: Beach Cakes ($1,000 and co-working space at The Iron Yard)

3rd place: Moody’s Wofford Wash ($1,000 and creative services from Spartanburg’s Whipp)

Impact Winners

First Place: Fantasyland ($2,000 and a strategy evaluation and marketing consultation from A-Line Interactive)

Second Place: The Purple Scarf Society ($1,000 and co-working space at The Iron Yard)

Third Place: Outdoors in the Upstate (iPad and Noble Impact full metric and impact evaluation valued at $2,000)

Fan favorite: Swell Shades