Representatives from UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business and Economics brought home the hardware from this year’s Small Business Institute (SBI) Annual Conference, receiving awards for Project of the Year and Best Paper.
The first-place award for Experiential Learning Project of the Year for an undergraduate feasibility or business plan went to a team of five UNCG students led by faculty advisor Noah Renolds, lecturer and Coleman Entrepreneur in Residence at the Bryan School.
“Knowing the SBI Project of the Year award is a national recognition, it felt very gratifying when our team was announced as the winner in our category,” said Luke Pecor, a senior entrepreneurship major. “It was an honor to represent UNCG and the Bryan School at the conference.”
The team consisted of Melanie Darges (entrepreneurship and marketing), James Eades (communication studies and entrepreneurship), Amanda Girard (arts administration), Netzer Wasserberg (entrepreneurship and marketing), and Pecor.
The team worked with Dri-Jox, a company that aims to deliver an innovative product designed for males of all ages to combat problems of uncontrollable daytime urine leakage due to stress or activity. Dri-Jox’s vision is to provide relief from lifestyle limitations and embarrassment surrounding male stress and urge incontinence by offering a secure, discreet, and comfortable solution.
“I met with the owners of Dri-Jox about four years ago,” said Dr. Dianne Welsh, Hayes Distinguished Professor at the Bryan School and Founding Director Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Program. “I have been mentoring her and her husband through getting the product patent pending with an attorney and then the wonderful team of students and Noah Reynolds, a superior instructor, who led the team.”
Welsh also won the Best Paper award at this year’s SBI conference along with several co-authors for their paper entitled “The Role of Entrepreneurial Intentions in Developing Future Entrepreneurs.”
For Pecor, the Bryan School’s world-class faculty certainly gave the student team an edge in a year complicated by COVID-19.
“The COVID lockdown started mid-semester as we were working on this project. It definitely presented an unexpected challenge. However, we understood that we weren’t the only ones depending on our project. The feasibility analysis was meant for local entrepreneurs Audree Blaikie, a UNCG alumna, and her husband Bill in order to help them build their start-up company. We knew we had to come through for them, so that’s what we did,” said Pecor. “Members of the Bryan School faculty absolutely helped set us apart from the competition. The course instructor, Noah Reynolds, introduced us to the idea of submitting the project to the SBI and took extra time to offer guidance as we completed the more challenging sections of our feasibility analysis. Steve Cramer, UNCG’s business librarian, was instrumental in helping us find source material for our research. Finally, Dr. Dianne Welsh served as the liaison between our team and the SBI leading up to the conference.”
Dr. Welsh, the Small Business Institute (SBI) Director for UNCG, submits the projects in their final form and judges other projects from across the U.S. as a requirement to compete.
This year’s SBI conference was held virtually on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26. SBI aims to be the premier organization engaging businesses, education, and the community. The ripple effect of the SBI Project of the Year Program is far-reaching, impacting more than 2,000 students, 400 businesses, 105,000 man-hours, and $5 million each year, according to the institute’s website.