University of Tampa

04/15/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/15/2024 15:09

UT Hosts Record-Breaking New Venture Expo

Published: April 15, 2024

The John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center at The University of Tampa Sykes College of Business celebrated a record-breaking success at the 2024 New Venture Expo held on Friday, April 12. This event, which attracted over 300 attendees - including students, alumni, prospective students, investors, volunteers and community members - showcased 72 companies, marking the highest number of participants since the expo's inception in 2017.

The John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center at The University of Tampa Sykes College of Business celebrated a record-breaking success at the 2024 New Venture Expo. Photo by Bert Seither

Rebecca White, director of the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, remarked, "The New Venture Expo is a testament to the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit that thrives at UT. I am immensely proud of the dedication and innovation our students have demonstrated, which was clearly evident in the diverse range of businesses presented this year."

This year's expo showcased a dynamic mix of graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of academic disciplines, along with participants from the Spartan Incubator and Accelerator entrepreneurship programs. These students presented business concepts developed throughout the academic year, which were evaluated on criteria such as business viability, team capability and presentation quality.

Frank Ghannadian, dean of the Sykes College of Business, added, "These young entrepreneurs are not just students; they are future business leaders. The New Venture Expo provides them a platform to not only showcase their ideas but also gain invaluable feedback from real-world business experts and investors."

Winners of the 2024 New Venture Expo:

  • First Place: Ela's Sweets - A 100% gluten-free bakery. Team members include Eliza Marrero and Colby Ward, both graduating next month, along with Giana Newsome '23. All are participants in the Spartan Accelerator.
  • Second Place: Backyard Sports - Founded by Brian Saulsberry, an M.S. in Entrepreneurship student who will graduate in August. This venture aims to bridge the gap between professional and collegiate athletes and grassroots organizations through clinics, training media and athletic gear.
  • Third Place: Rush Power - Co-founded by Morgan Bierbrunner and Isabella Dillio, who are graduating in May and who participate in the Spartan Accelerator. This supplement company specializes in pre-workout gummies designed to enhance athletic performance and endurance. Bierbrunner and Dillio are competing in e-Fest, a national competition, April 18-20.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Coast to Coast Hammock Co. - Founded by Haley Tisone (May '24), featuring a 3-in-1 hammocking system.
  • Left for Dead Incorporated - Founded by Vincent A. Lanci ('13, MBA '15), offering full-service podcast production and branding tools.

A total of $7,000 in cash prizes was awarded to the five top businesses.

Located in the Daly Innovation and Collaboration Building at UT, the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center supports the full life cycle of a business from idea to exit, fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and aiding students in achieving their professional goals. The Lowth Center houses the Spartan Incubator program, which cultivates business ideas from recent graduates and early-stage community businesses, and the Spartan Accelerator program, which connects current UT students from all majors with experienced mentors and industry leaders to help formulate and refine their business plans.

For further information, contact Bert Seither, manager of operations at the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, at [email protected].