ECU student wins $12,500 for her Greenville business

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A retro clothing line, an already patented interchangeable backpack, and a simplified tutoring service for veterans, those were three of the seven business ideas created by ECU student teams vying for the top prize in the inaugural Pirate Challenge Thursday night.

A total of $20,000 was up for grabs.

"I've been getting really good mentoring from Greenville Seed, from the Miller School of Entrepreneurship," says one contestant, Matt McCall.

"I don't know exactly what is going to come from it, but I already landed a few internship calls from the whole business side of everything," says Victor Still, another contestant.

Hailing from three different colleges, students put their best business pitch forward in the a contest held by the Miller School of Entrepreneurship as part of the College of Business.

The contestants were paired with mentors to help them develop an idea that they then presented to a group of judges who picked a winner by grading the business proposals.

"The learning really hits home when they're able to take things from the classroom and apply it to their own business," explains David Mayo, one of the instructors. "It kind of makes things real."

In the end, only one team could be the big winner and taking first place and $12,500. That went to the ECU School of Business' Taylor Hicks who has already been running her business idea called Simple and Sentimental, a company based out of Greenville that creates customized hand-lettered products.

"I am immediately going to go and start signing a lease for a new office space in Greenville so I can expand my company and I could not be more happy about this," Hicks says.

The Pirate Challenge started back in October of 2017 with 57 student teams, which were narrowed down to the seven teams that competed Thursday night through two previous rounds of voting by both a panel of judges and ECU students.