Local Charleston Students Advance from Regional to Upcoming State Business Plan Competition


Twenty four students from the tri-county area spent Tuesday, May 9th at the College of Charleston School of Business, competing for $1,000 and a chance to advance to the Mark E. Motley Foundation State Business Plan Competition on June 17th, 2017. The students, whose ages ranged from 15 to 18 years old, had spent the past few weeks tweaking their business plans after beating their fellow classmates to get to this stage of the competition. CofC’s School of Business Dean Alan Shao kicked off the day with an inspiring welcome speech. Sharing stories of his own entrepreneurial pursuits when he was the competitor’s’ age, Shao also imparted some wisdom, and encouraged students to be diligent in picking the brains of those they admire, and always follow their dreams, no matter how crazy their ideas may be.


The students began their first presentations at 12:30pm in various classrooms within the School of Business. Each classroom had its own volunteer judges from the Charleston community, tasked to determine the top students who would advance to the next round. Once the first round was over, competitors gathered with family and fellow classmates for a certificate ceremony and check presentation in the Wells Fargo Auditorium. Representatives from the various sponsors including First Tennessee Bank, Glasspro, TD Charitable Foundation, Paisano’s Pizza Grill, Exchange Club of Charleston, Rotary Club of Charleston–Breakfast, Rotary Club of Daniel Island, and St. John’s Parish Rotary Club helped award the class round winners. Ten semifinalists were announced shortly thereafter, and asked to prepare for their second presentation to a new set of judges. At 4:45pm, after a suspenseful window of time in which the judges deliberated, three finalists were announced: Dante Heckel from Fort Dorchester High for his business plan for PowerPax, Jasmine Adams from Bishop England High School for her business plan for Smudgies, and Colin Posnanski from Wando High School for his business plan for Shoelace Society.


At 5pm, the three finalists began their last presentations of the day on the bigger stage of the auditorium. They presented their final pitch in front of an esteemed panel of judges of Charleston business leaders that included PeopleMatter Founder Nate DaPore, GlassPro Owner Paul Heinauer, Blackbaud EVP John Mistretta, The Law Office of Erika Harrison’s Erika Harrison, SnapCap Founder Steve Swanson, all YEScarolina board members, as well as Motley Rice Partner Mike Elsner, whose law firm sponsored the competition for the past 6 years. After a final deliberation, the judges announced the winners:


1st Place – Smudgies, $1,000

2nd Place – Shoelace Society, $500

3rd Place – PowerPax, $250




All finalists will compete at the Mark E. Motley Foundation State Business Plan Competition at the College of Charleston School of Business on June 17th, 2017. Charleston’s business community is encouraged to get involved with our city’s youngest entrepreneurs. Everyone is invited to attend the Student Expo at the State Competition, held at 11am and 4:15pm in the Beatty Auditorium of the College of Charleston School of Business, to learn more about the students and their businesses.