Jackson Barbee, an Appalachian State University freshman and management major from Cary, won first place in the fall 2017 Big Idea Pitch Competition held on Nov. 10, 2017, in the Plemmons Student Union. Barbee won for his idea of a bag designed specifically for rock climbers. Second prize went to the creator of an online role-playing game for the visually impaired and third prize was awarded for a proposed mobile barbershop app.
The competition, which took place in conjunction with Appalachian's Carole McLeod Entrepreneur Summit, was hosted by the Walker College of Business' (WCOB) Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship (TICFE), and provides Appalachian students the opportunity to showcase their ideas for new business ventures.
Barbee won for his innovative business idea, the Boulder Bag — a purpose-built bag that supports the unique needs of rock climbers. The design of the bag eliminates common problems experienced when using normal backpacks, such as damage to electronics due to chalk dust, which is an unavoidable part of the sport, Barbee said.
He received a $1,000 prize for his idea, and won the audience choice award for his presentation. Barbee will work with Dale E. Tweedy '89, recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award and mentor to Barbee, to secure a contract manufacturer and bring the bag to market.
The competition's second-place winner, Narayana Walters, a senior computer science major from Sandy Ridge, North Carolina, earned a $500 prize for his idea — an online role-playing game for the visually impaired. William "Chandler" Greer, a senior marketing major and student-athlete from Knoxville, Tenn., won third place in the competition and a $250 prize for his mobile barbershop app idea.
Ten finalists were chosen from a larger pool of applicants to pitch their best business ideas for a chance to win prize money, along with boasting rights. Each finalist made a three-minute pitch to a panel of entrepreneur judges, who voted on the most promising ideas and provided feedback to the participants.
The Hockey Stick Principles, with support from the Boonshine Brewing Company and Appalachian Mountain Brewing, sponsored the pitch competition. According to its website, The Hockey Stick Principles is a research project that "investigates how good ideas become successful companies." Appalachian alumnus Bobby Martin '92 founded the project, which began from the guidebook he authored for entrepreneurs titled, "The Hockey Stick Principles: The 4 Key Stages to Entrepreneurial Success."