The Georgia Chamber of Commerce presented the first annual Georgia InVenture Prize competition on April 3-4, 2019. The competition highlighted Georgia’s best minds and most innovative student entrepreneurs. The Georgia InVenture Prize is a competition for college students that promote start-up creation. It is the Georgia Chamber’s responsibility, as the state’s biggest advocate for business, to help develop and maintain statewide jobs. Through the statewide competition, we created an atmosphere where young adults had the opportunity to change not only their lives but also the lives of citizens across Georgia. The Georgia Chamber is keeping its commitment to expanding innovation and entrepreneurship through this competition.
The competition started Wednesday morning with check-in, a tour around Georgia Public Broadcasting, our venue host, and then began the preliminary round. There were 19 teams who presented their inventions to a plethora of judges that came from companies like The Home Depot, TED, and The JumpFund, to name a few. Each team competed to become the five Georgia InVenture Prize finalists that would pitch their ideas to a live audience and judges on national television. Those judges were inventors of their own: Janelle Fitzpatrick, owner of Better Options Company, Dr. Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker, and Tiffany Krumins, founder of Mom Genius.
The first-place winner of the competition and recipient of $25,000 was team ExtendoSocket, which is a retractable extension cord located inside a wall socket, from Fort Valley State and University. The second-place and Peoples Choice award winner was Ben Huntzinger from Southern Regional Technical College who invented Spartan Wheel Chariots which are rugged, off-road wheelchairs built for outdoor use.
“It has changed my life tremendously. I used to say that I’m going straight into medical school after I graduate, but now I confidently say I would like to work on furthering my invention and becoming a young, black entrepreneur,” said Ryeshia Cutliff, Fort Valley State University.
“The Georgia InVenture Prize Competition has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Even with the long hours, sweat, failures, nay-sayers, and stress – I can sincerely say I wouldn’t change a thing about this experience. I was built for this right here,” said Ben Huntzinger, Southern Regional Technical College. “I am truly making a difference in the world in a way that my caring soul was always meant to do.”
The Georgia InVenture Prize Competition represents an opportunity to stimulate student entrepreneurial activity and to highlight the excellent creativity and ingenuity of our students, and to inspire a greater sense of support across the state.
The 19 teams that participated in the Georgia InVenture Prize Competition can be found here.