Perfect day welcomes Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge back to campus

Blue skies, 67 degrees and 64 teams representing numerous departments from across campus all added up to a perfect setting for the fifth annual Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, which began Tuesday on the University Mall.

The Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge is East Carolina University’s premier pitch competition where student teams showcased their business ideas and vied for more than $150,000 in cash and in-kind services. The student teams started the three-round gauntlet of pitching and judging in an open-air format. Both student voters and judges asked questions of the future entrepreneurs to learn more about the ideas and products, and decide who moves on to the second round.

ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers helped kick off the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge by saying the competition is directly related to the mission of ECU. “It’s all about public service, student success and regional transformation. … We’re so excited to provide this through the Miller School and through all the different majors who are participating.”


After more than 1,900 votes cast, 12 teams will move on to the second round. Those teams include:

  • AI Tailor, a web app that connects individuals with top-tier tailors
  • Auxtronauts, an app for party hosts and party attendees to use in real time during a party
  • Carolina Chicken and Waffles, a mobile food unit that celebrates the operator’s heritage in eastern North Carolina
  • Designs by Lyd, a handmade clay accessory and Christian clothing line
  • GO-BO, LLC, a compact modular martial arts weapons kit
  • Kannavis, a clothing brand that offers sustainable, luxury and quality clothing and accessories
  • Key to Hope, a nonprofit that helps underprivileged children through music and donated instruments and lessons
  • Lys Boutique, a small business that sells boutique clothes and jewelry, and eventually beauty services
  • Sand-Off, a sand-repelling sunscreen
  • Sydvicious, an artist selling hand-crafted coloring books
  • Theraplushies, a pillow that incorporates numerous therapies that help those who are anxious
  • Topdog Outfitters, southern comfort apparel inspired by life moments with one’s furry companions

“Diversity surely seemed to be the theme of this year’s challenge,” said David Mayo, event organizer and director of the Crisp Small Business Resource Center. “Our students displayed their many backgrounds and passions based on their ideas.”

For the second round of the competition, scheduled for Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. in Ballroom A of the Main Student Center, students will have five minutes to pitch their business ideas to a group of expert judges. After a follow-up question-and-answer session, six winners will move to the final round, scheduled for April 7 at 6 p.m. in the Murphy Center’s Harvey Hall.

ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers speaks to one of the student teams in the first round of the fifth annual Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Carolina Chicken and Waffles will move on to the second round of the fifth annual Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.