Middle grade and high school students from Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes Counties will pitch their business ideas for a chance to earn scholarships to Appalachian State University.
The prizes are part of the first annual GEAR UP Pitch Competition, which will be held on Appalachian’s campus on April 27, 2018.
More than 20 teams will participate, presenting for five minutes per team to a panel of entrepreneurs and university staff. The teams will be scored on their idea, pitch, research and prototype. High school students will also be scored on financial viability of the business idea.
Scholarship prizes will be awarded to the top three teams in both high school and middle school categories.
The funding for the scholarships was made possible from a generous donation from Lifestore Bank, a full-service banking and insurance provider based locally in the mountains of Western NC.
“As a hometown banking and insurance company, Lifestore supports and encourages young people to explore possibilities,” said Judy Current, marketing and public relations director for Lifestore.
The event was created in partnership with the Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship (TICFE), GEAR UP and the local school systems in Western NC.
“Our goal is to inspire and prepare future entrepreneurs by providing them a regional platform where they can share their ideas in a collaborative and competitive environment,” said TICFE Assistant Director Jonathan Carpenter.
While on campus, the students, along with their teachers and family members, will tour Appalachian and the Walker College of Business. The tours will be provided by Walker Fellows — current Appalachian business students who will help the students learn what it’s like to be a student at Appalachian.
Social entrepreneurship lecturer Jesse Pipes will offer comments about the growth mindset and provide key concepts for young entrepreneurs and then help present the awards to the winning student teams.
Pipes’ talk and the awards ceremony is open to the public and begins at 1:15pm in the Greenbriar Theater in the Plemmons Student Union.
“Appalachian offers a unique approach to growing entrepreneurship and economic development in the community,” said Carpenter. “Programs like the Gear Up Pitch Competition helps support local youth to begin pursuing their passions early.”
GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. It is a federally funded college access program designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education immediately after high school. We work in partnership with 11 school districts to provide college preparation activities to 15,000 middle and high school students and parents. Learn more at gearup.appstate.edu.
About the TI Center for Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is a crucial tool for economic development, especially in Western North Carolina, where many traditional industries have declined in recent years. The future economic development of Western North Carolina is critically related to the region's ability to grow from within. As a reflection, student interest in entrepreneurship is growing at Appalachian, and the Walker College of Business is committed to fostering students' entrepreneurial energy and ambition. With support from the Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial-minded students create and launch businesses through an accelerator program in Peacock Hall and receive hands-on advice and experience through co-curricular and outreach programs. Learn more at entrepreneurship.appstate.edu.