Annual Summer Innovation Academy welcomes tomorrow's entrepreneurs

The annual Summer Innovation Academy was once again hosted by the College of Business and the Miller School of Entrepreneurship and held the week of July 17.

Sixteen students from Pitt County high school came prepared with an idea on the first day of camp, and from there, Corey Pulido, teaching instructor with the Miller School, took the students on an entrepreneurial journey and readied them to make a pitch about their idea on the camp’s last day.

To prepare their pitches, Pulido, along with ECU RISE29 students and ECU’s Dr. Carlyle Rogers, introduced the students – using exercises and presentations – to the lean launch startup methodology, entrepreneurial ecosystems and protecting intellectual property. Local entrepreneurs, including Kristi Overton Johnson, who spoke about her entrepreneurial journey, and investors also participated in the academy and provided one-on-one feedback to the students.


Desiree Coles is a junior at South Central High School in Winterville. This year marked the student’s first time attending the academy, but it was not the first exposure to entrepreneurship.

“It came from my dad, but it also came from wanting to be my own boss and have my own product.”

Coles’ idea for a product is to add attachments, i.e., eyeglasses, to goggles to help swimmers who need glasses to see underwater.

“Before the Summer Innovation Academy, I had the idea in mind but never really took a step forward. The academy is helping me take that step forward, helping me realize what my target audience is, who my target audience is, my financial needs, how to pitch, how to patent and trademark and protect my product.”

Isaiah Godley

Isaiah Godley also is from South Central High School. The junior wants to manufacture recovery wear, i.e., ankle brace, that is more comfortable, and that can be personalized.

“I came to my idea after I hurt myself playing basketball. When I was playing (after the injury), I put on an ankle brace, and it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t comfortable. When I sat down and thought about it, I thought ‘how can I make this better; how can I make it better for the customer?”

Regarding the Summer Innovation Academy, “I’ve learned a lot about putting the (entrepreneurial) puzzle pieces together. I’ve met a few contacts that I can ask for advice.”

Godley’s goal is to have his product “on the shelves of Academy Sports and DICKS’s Sporting Goods.”

Pulido said he was “very impressed and very excited at the end of the camp to see how excited they (students) were and how encouraged they were by the guests who attended the trade show.”

More than 70 people attended the Academy’s last day and heard pitches from the students.

This year also marked the first time the Academy partnered with Crossing the Bridge and the Youth Entrepreneurship Program. Churches Outreach Network handled the recruiting and logistics of the children and helped develop the beginning stages of the program.

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