The creator of Credit Virgin, an online platform that helps students build good credit scores, has won the fall Vol Court session at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
About 1,000 Facebook users cast their votes and selected Nate Buchanan, an MBA student from Hendersonville, Tenn., as the first-place winner. Second place went to Mitchell Poythress, a junior from Antioch, Tenn., who is developing a mobile application to help shoppers locate food items in a grocery store.
Vol Court is an entrepreneurial education series that ends with a competition between aspiring entrepreneurs for cash prizes to launch their business. The series is held both in the fall and spring and is open to students, faculty and the general public.
Buchanan received $1,000 to launch his business, space at the UT Research Foundation (UTRF) business incubator, consulting services from Pershing Yoakley and Associates and mentoring from the College of Business Administration’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI)—a prize package worth more than $5,000. Poythress received $500, space in the UTRF business incubator and mentoring from ACEI.
“Vol Court was a great experience because it forced me to get outside my comfort zone by approaching potential customers to vet the true viability of your business,” Buchanan said. “It forces you to put your business strategy to the test with seasoned entrepreneurs who can easily spot the flaws.” He plans to use the money to refine and test market the platform.
Buchanan and Poythress were selected by a panel of judges this month during a Vol Court pitch session at the James A. Haslam II Business Building. Voting determined the order of the winners and coincided with Global Entrepreneurship Week, a celebration of innovators designed to connect aspiring entrepreneurs to collaborators, mentors and investors.
The state of Tennessee topped the nation in the number of activities sanctioned by Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Vol Court is sponsored by the Anderson Center, UT Federal Credit Union, Pershing Yoakley and Associates and the UT Research Foundation.