Student Entrepreneurs Win Cash Awards at Annual Business Pitch Competition

Written by Jasmine Simmons

Business Plan Competition at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, March 20, 2024 Photo by Sam Simpkins

Wednesday night, four giant checks equaling $8,250 were awarded to winners of the Business Plan Competition hosted by the Thomas F. Cone Sr. Center for Entrepreneurship where students presented their real business ventures — either currently operating or planning for launch — to a panel of alumni judges.  

Business System Analytics and Management double majocher Jessica Finney accepted two of the four big checks for presenting Chechi’s Chai, a family labor of love that brings the real taste of chai to Nashville and builds community over cross-cultural stories. Finney received $5,000 for first place and an additional $250 as People’s Choice.  

jess-finney.jpgFinney intends for her award to help fund a trip to the state of Kerala in India with the prospect of sourcing from the Muna Tea Plantation.  

“Our goal is to push our culture across this bridge of living in America and having this heritage in India,” Finney said. “We want to find a way to bring that here without cutting corners. Source from the source. That is our dream, to ensure we represent our country and our heritage well.” 

Senior Finance major Bailey Jackson shared his journey of scaling, descaling and pivoting Montana Craft Company, a five-year-old business that distributes sublimation blank for customizable craft items. Jackson accepted a $2,000 check for second place.  

paloma-tavares.jpgSenior Global Leadership Studies major Paloma Tavares accepted the third-place prize of $1,000 for Casa Paloma. During her presentation, Paloma addressed Nashville’s need for a neighborhood Latin bar that can be a permanent space to enjoy Latin music, dancing and food.  

“My culture, my music, our demographic isn’t an event,” Tavares said. “It deserves to have a permanent space in Nashville for the growing community. There are over 70,000 Latinos in Nashville, representing over 20 countries, making up 10% of our population.” 

The judges panel consisted of Belmont alumni who are also owners and founders of businesses. The judges included Megan and Jimmy Feeman of No Baked Cookie Dough Meredith Maze of Abednego Boutique and Clark Buckner of Relationary Marketing 

The Thomas F. Cone Center for Entrepreneurship provides substantive support for students in their entrepreneurial journey with events like the Business Plan Competition where they can network with peers and successful alumni as well as win cold, hard cash to help finance their goals.