Six, student-led teams reach the finals of the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge

The next Pirate entrepreneur is one step closer to winning this year’s Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The second round of the 2022-2023 Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge was held Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the Main Student Center on the campus of East Carolina University. After 11 teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, six will move on to the final round and have the opportunity to take the lion’s share of $150,000 in cash and in-kind services.

The finalists include:

  • Designs by Lyd, a purpose-driven clothing brand.
  • Disc Dawg, an autonomous disc golf cart designed to carry gear and a cooler.
  • Flourish Fitness, an integrated physical and mental wellness space for victims of sexual assault.
  • Fosterline Support, an organization that creates a universal background check process to find short-term, affordable childcare for foster families.
  • Invenire, a company that aims to create a virtual experience that allows users to learn from, interact with and visit museums.
  • RSC Fit, a consulting business that customizes workout plans that meet the client’s fitness goals.

The College of Business, College of Engineering and Technology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and College of Health and Human Performance will be represented during the finals.

This year’s Pirate Challenge finalists showcase a diversity of ideas. Clothing, fitness, new products, social enterprises and technology are all represented. According to David Mayo, director of the Crisp Small Business Resource Center and organizer of the Pirate Challenge, the finalists survived a second round that was one of the toughest since the Pirate Challenge started.

“The 11 teams that presented in the second round embody the best of our student entrepreneurs,” said Mayo. “For the teams who did not make it to the finals, the Miller School team can’t wait to witness the success of their ventures.”

All teams were evaluated by the following judges:

  • Ryan Butcher — tech company founder
  • Robby Carney — business development with Duelboot Partners
  • Grant Edwards — a fractional CEO with multiple successful growth companies
  • Tyler Lumley — startup business counselor with the SBTDC
  • Taylor Walden, owner, Simple & Sentimental

However, the judges’ responsibilities are not finished. Each judge, along with the Miller School of Entrepreneurship, will mentor the six finalists.

The final round of the Pirate Challenge is scheduled for April 6, 6-8 p.m. in Harvey Hall on the campus of East Carolina University.

Judges announced for finals

Organizers of the Pirate Challenge also announced the five judges who will select the next Pirate Challenge winner. The judges are:

  • Vern Davenport, partner, QHP Capital
  • John May, founder and managing partner, CORE Industrial Partners
  • Fielding Miller, co-founder, chairman and CEO, CAPTRUST
  • Sonja Nichols, president and owner, Southern Lion, LLC
  • Grant Smith, ECU ’23, winner of the fourth Pirate Challenge

In its sixth year, the Pirate Challenge has so far awarded more than $500,000 in cash and prizes to more than 350 student-led teams. The Miller School of Entrepreneurship is the organizer of the Pirate Challenge, the largest student pitch competition in North Carolina.