ATLANTA—A team of Georgia State University student entrepreneurs took top prizes in the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge, winning during the live competition finals and championship round of e-Fest 2019 held April 11-13 in Minneapolis.
Georgia State students Chanté Knox and Dia Davis of DelivHer won the grand prize in the pitch competition against 25 other finalists. The students are bringing to market a patented feminine hygiene product created by women for women, and a monthly subscription service of feminine products that can be customized for an individual woman’s needs.
Knox and Davis faced stiff competition against teams from institutions such as Princeton University, the Air Force Academy, Virginia Tech and other colleges and universities.
The students used the resources and faculty mentoring of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Instituteat Georgia State, which seeks to expand and support student entrepreneurship for students across all majors.
“For me, being an entrepreneur and having a startup has been phenomenal,” said Knox, founder and chief executive officer of DelivHer and designer of the feminine hygiene product, an improved menstrual cup using medical-grade sponge material. “I get to see my dream unfold right in front of me and manifest into something other than an idea or a vision. Being able to bring something that everybody thought I was crazy for wanting to do or dreaming of has been great.”
The experience at the pitching competition helped Knox and Davis to improve their skills in pitching business ideas to members of an audience that will not use the product, and often squirm at the subject – men.
“How do you pitch a feminine product to men and get them to sympathize with a feeling that they will never experience?” said Isabelle Monlouis, a professor of practice at Georgia State’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute. “Chante and Dia came in, and they did so well, everybody fell in love with them.”
“A lot of women feel like they can talk about it among other women, but they can’t talk about it with men,” said Davis, the company’s chief operating officer. “It’s important that we have a conversation and get products out there that really fit our needs.”
Besides the $75,000 grand prize, the students won a “pitch slam” worth $10,000 and an innovation challenge that added $20,000. They plan to use the funds to invest in their company.
They plan to perform further testing of the product and are looking to have a soft launch later in the year.
“We want to continue to perform research to figure out what women need,” Davis said. “Chante had a great customer discovery, and we want to go back to those women with whom we interviewed.”
Knox and Davis also want to use their experiences to encourage other Georgia State students to pursue entrepreneurship.
“We want to be able to give back to people in a way that helps them stay encouraged because entrepreneurship is not easy,” Davis said. “It can be trying, but you can continue to go on with strategy and support and having people who are constantly motivating you to move forward.”
Monlouis said the university is fulfilling an obligation to provide skills that allow them to have confidence in pursuing entrepreneurship, including women.
“We want their businesses to be as big as their vision is,” she said. “People think that you’re crazy for having this dream and wanting it to come true, but we say, ‘just watch.’”
For more about entrepreneurship at Georgia State, visit https://eni.gsu.edu.