Mercer University to Host SoCon Entrepreneurship Challenge

Staff Report

Thursday, March 30th, 2023

Mercer University Stetson-Hatcher School of Business will host the second annual SoCon Entrepreneurship Challenge at the Mercer Innovation Center’s Smisson Complex on the Macon campus on March 31 and April 1.  

The SoCon Entrepreneurship Challenge, a product of the Southern Conference’s Academic Exchange program, is a pitch competition designed to showcase students with an idea for an innovative business or nonprofit organization. The competition features two tracks — for-profit and nonprofit. 

This year, seven SoCon institutions will participate, with a team of one to four students competing in each track. The selection process for the teams is determined by each individual school. In addition to Mercer, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, The Citadel, Samford University, Virginia Military Institute, Western Carolina University and Wofford College will be participating in the challenge. 

“We are thrilled to be hosting the SoCon Entrepreneurship Challenge at Mercer this year,” said Dr. Briana Stenard, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship. “At Mercer, we believe in encouraging entrepreneurship education and supporting student businesses, and this competition is right in line with that mission. We look forward to seeing our Mercer student teams present alongside the other entrepreneurial teams in the SoCon."   

The Entrepreneurship Challenge, held for the first time in 2022, will feature a semifinal pitch round with all 14 teams presenting their ideas on March 31. Top professionals from the for-profit and nonprofit industries will serve as judges and decide which teams move on to the final pitch competition round on April 1, which will take place from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and is open to the public. The teams will be scored on product/service, opportunity, target market, financial feasibility and presentation, and the winning team from each track will be awarded $6,000. 

Participants will also have the chance to learn from other schools, entrepreneurs and professionals during workshops and activities when they are not competing.  

School of Business Dean Dr. Julie Petherbridge will serve as the host for the competition, and Dr. Stenard and Dr. Marko Horn, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship, will serve as faculty advisers.  

In the inaugural competition in 2022, hosted by The Citadel, Mercer students Olivia Korta, Emma Drash, Aaryanna Mercer and Martha Corinn won first place in the nonprofit division for their brand inspired by the Mercer On Mission program in Rwanda that benefits Rwandan tailors. Representing Mercer this year are students Kernen Frey, Adrianna Koerber and Mason Mourning in the nonprofit category for Traffick Jam and Connor Ferguson in the for-profit category for Daedalus UAS.