ATLANTA – Mercer University's Stetson School of Business and Economics will hold its second annual Entrepreneurial Festival on May 2, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., on the Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta.
Five finalists in the festival's business model competition will vie for $7,500 in prize money, presented by BB&T, and Karen Robinson Cope, co-founder and senior vice president for business development of LED lighting design corporation NanoLumens, will be presented with the University's Atlanta Outstanding Entrepreneur Award.
"This competition represents the culmination of a yearlong effort by our student entrepreneurs to launch startups. Under the guidance of associate professor and business consultant Dr. Robert Perkins, Mercer students are distinguishing themselves in competitions around the Southeast for their exceptional preparation," said Dr. Susan P. Gilbert, dean of the School.
"I am also excited to welcome highly successful entrepreneur Karen Robinson Cope to Mercer, which has been acclaimed by The Princeton Review for its female friendly learning environment."
Earlier this semester, 10 student startup companies competed in the preliminary round of the business plan competition, which was judged by a panel of Mercer MBA graduates and current members of the School's Board of Visitors. These judges not only ranked the entries but also provided valuable feedback to each of the students.
The five finalists who will compete on Saturday include Fatimata Aw (Delicies du Sui – Baobab 5000), Lorenzo Jackson (Bottom Line Recovery Services), Andre Jerry (JustBeeCards), Stafford McCoy (Choosey Smoothie) and Lavette Dow-Jones (Crime Punchers).
They will be judged by three experienced investors with strong networks of young companies. Tarby Bryant is chairman and CEO of Sweetwater Capital Corporation and founder of The Gathering of Angels. Randall Foster is a managing director at Focus Investment Bank, and Akbar Kassam is founder and president of DGG LLC investment firm and the only returning judge to the business model competition.
Honorable mention selections in the competition included Janice McFadden (Perfect Pak), John Matthews (PourItOn Sauces), Justin McAfee (Encite), Erika Smith (Golden Spa) and Charles Weaving (Aeroquick).
Following the announcement of the awards at noon in the Trustees Dining Room and a private luncheon for students, faculty and invited guests, Dean Gilbert will present this year's Atlanta Outstanding Entrepreneur Award to Cope.
Cope is a serial entrepreneur who has been CEO of four high-growth ventures over the last two decades. She has raised over $100 million for her companies, more than any other woman in Georgia. She was named Women in Technology's (WIT) first Woman of the Year in Technology in 2000.
Cope was chairwoman, president and CEO of Enrev Corporation, a technology firm, which was acquired in 2001. Next, she led Prime Point Media, one of the largest out-of-home advertising companies in the U.S., as president and CEO, which she sold to a public company in 2006. That same year, she and her husband, Richard "Rick" Cope, founded Nanolumens with one goal – to create displays that would change the industry forever. As senior vice president for business development, she spearheads the strategic growth of the company, which has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine among other major publications.
Cope is a leader in developing future entrepreneurs. In 2010, she founded the nonprofit Atlanta Council of Board Advisors (COBA) to offer strategic advisory services to small firms. She is the first female president of the Atlanta chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), a nonprofit organization that fosters entrepreneurship globally, and she serves on the board of StartupChicks, another nonprofit aimed at creating a global community of female founders. In addition to Mercer, she has spoken at MIT, Georgia Tech, Harvard and Emory.
About the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics
Established in 1984, Mercer University's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics is named for Eugene W. Stetson, a 1901 Mercer graduate and business pioneer who leveraged the first major buyout in corporate history. Over the past 80 years, Mercer has granted over 12,000 business degrees, and many of its graduates hold senior leadership positions in companies around the world. Mercer's business school delivers career-focused business education programs and develops entrepreneurial leaders and responsible global citizens. It holds accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which places it among the top five percent of all top business schools worldwide. Mercer's business school has been recognized by the Princeton Review for "Greatest Opportunity for Minority Students" and "Greatest Opportunity for Women" as well as being one of its "Best Business Schools." In addition, it has been recognized among the "Top 15 Schools in the Nation for Marketing and Accounting."
The School offers the following programs: Atlanta (Evening BBA, Full-Time (One-Year) MBA, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Professional MBA, Master of Accountancy, M.S. in Business Analytics), Macon (Traditional BBA and Evening MBA), Douglas County and Henry County (Evening BBA). www.mercer.edu/business