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90 SECONDS…GO! UNCP’s entrepreneurs make their best pitch


If your future and your dreams depended on just 90 seconds, would you sweat?

Seven student-entrepreneurs at UNC Pembroke faced judges and poured out their hearts and business ideas in the 2nd Annual Elevator Competition.

The students, who are in their final semester of UNCP’s Entrepreneurship Certificate program, believed their ideas are so good, they swore the judges and media to secrecy. Their ideas ranged from Internet marketing to personal services.

Michael Robinson won the contest and $100 in prize money offered by Lumbee Guaranty Bank and Nick Arena, director of COMtech, a local business incubator. After hearing he had won, Robinson had questions for judge Kyle Chavis, a credit administrator at the bank.

“What are the key points of a business idea a bank looks for?” Robinson asked.

“I would like to see you narrow down your target market and tell me more about your experience in this business,” Chavis said. “I want to hear your marketing strategy and if you are going into retail, tell me about your experience in customer relations.”

Chavis helped judge the event with Arena and Beth Wilkerson, assistant director of UNCP’s Small Business and Technology Development Center.

“This was my second year judging, and the presentations are getting better, very professional, in fact,” Wilkerson said. “It was difficult to judge because they were all high quality presentations.

“Some of these ideas are worth pursuing,” she concluded.

“I thought everybody did a nice job,” Arena said. “They were dressed professionally, and they hit the important marks in their pitches.”

Dr. Michael Menefee, the Thomas Family Distinguished Professor for Entrepreneurship, coordinates the Entrepreneurship Certificate Program.

“This class focuses on building business plans, but we want them to work on their personal skills too,” Dr. Menefee said. “The entrepreneurship program at UNCP is off and running as you can see in these presentations.”

Brad Austin earned $50 for his second place finish, Quinika Benton finished third and won $30 and Melissa Skrzydlinski earned $20 for fourth place.

For more information about entrepreneurship programs at UNCP, please contact Dr. Menefee at 910.775.4208 or email him at