Four Student-owned Businesses Awarded $20K from Boyd Venture Fund

 

A snack dip company, an import distribution business, a children’s fitness initiative, and an information portal for fraternities and sororities will continue to grow, thanks to an infusion of dollars from a UT grant.

The four student-owned businesses were recently awarded a total of $20,000 from the Boyd Venture Fund. The fund aims to propel student entrepreneurs before they graduate. It is administered through the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s College of Business Administration.

As part of the grant, the center also connects each winning enterprise to a mentor.

Since the Boyd Venture Fund’s inception in 2011, six UT student companies have received a total of $42,500 in seed money to invest in their businesses. Grants are available to any student-owned business and are awarded each spring and fall.

The spring 2012 winners are:

SummerSett Foods, a company that develops, markets, and sells high-quality snack dips. Jake Rheude, of Cincinnati, a management major, and Cedric Brown, of Columbus, Ohio, an accounting major, founded the business after they were frustrated by the lack of a frozen, pre-packaged buffalo chicken dip available in grocery freezers. They eventually sponsored a successful buffalo chicken dip recipe competition. A website is not yet available.

“We’ve received great mentoring through connections we’ve made through other Anderson Center competitions,” Rheude said. “The award will allow us to move forward with establishing a website, designing packaging, and meeting labeling requirements.”

Grassroots Uganda in North America (GUNA), an import and distribution company allied with a women’s empowerment organization in Uganda. It was founded by Jennifer Smith, of Maryville, a Russian/global studies major. The organization reaches out to homeless and HIV-positive women, teaches them how to make jewelry and handicrafts, pays them for their work, and gives them the opportunity to improve their health and well-being.

“A primary goal of GUNA is to create transparency in the supply chain so that GUNA’s customers can see the effect their purchases are having on the lives of Ugandan women,” Smith said.

The award will allow Smith to return to Uganda, develop additional contacts, acquire more merchandise for sale, and expand her distribution network. Currently, GUNA products can be purchased at online at Etsy.

PowerUp Fitness LLC, a children’s fitness company that promotes physical, mental, and social development of youngsters through educational fitness programs. Stacy Scott, of Memphis, a master’s student in exercise physiology, founded it.

“I developed PowerUp programs to energize and motivate youngsters and to make kids’ fitness fun,” Scott said.

The award will cover Scott’s legal fees and liability insurance and will promote the business.

Visit the PowerUp website for more information on bringing their programs to fitness centers or schools.

Greek Connect LLC, an information portal for fraternities and sororities. The founders created it to enhance communication and interaction among Greek communities on college campuses. They are Collin Cope, of Knoxville, an architecture major; Richmond Watkins, of Nashville, a management major; Ryan McPherson, of Nashville, a communications major; Grant Blevins, of Knoxville, a management major; and Maggie Rubenstein, of Nashville, a marketing major.

“Greek Connect provides the resources and communication channels you need to stay connected with your chapter and with the larger Greek community,” Watkins said.

Founders will use their award to finalize and roll out their website.

C O N T A C T S :

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lola.alapo@tennessee.edu)

Cindy Raines (865-974-4359, craines1@utk.edu)

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