Madison native scored $40,000 grand prize and airfare to national conference
OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi accountancy student with a growing tutoring agency was the big winner Thursday (Sept. 29) during the Delta Regional Authority Delta Pitch competition at the UM Innovation Center at Insight Park.
Lee Ingram’s HigherLearning LLC was selected from among five participants in the contest, which was co-hosted by Insight Park, the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation.
“This is truly exciting,” said Ingram, a Madison native in UM’s Master of Accountancy program. He was among three competitors to win a Delta Entrepreneur Network fellowship, and also won free airfare to the 2017 national meeting in New Orleans. With the Delta Entrepreneur Network fellowship, winngers get $40,000 in small business development training and access to national investors.
“I put a lot of preparation into my business and my pitch,” Ingram said. “I’m happy people can see my vision and support it this way. This definitely put me on track for the next level of growth and expansion.”
Since Ingram began HigherLearning a little over a year ago, he has seen the tutoring business swell by leaps and bounds.
“Students who need tutoring can go online and book an experienced tutor for about $40 per hour,” he said. “Our services really come in handy for professors who refer these students to us after they initially come to them for assistance. Those we’ve helped to succeed also tell their friends about us.”
The second place fellow was Pontus Andersson, for his On the Wall Inc., an interactive information software designed to connect smartphones to smart mirrors. Peter Grumbles, owner of Bootsie’s Delta Funk BBQ, was the third fellow selected.
Thomas Matlock’s “Interactive Languages,” a virtual reality software for learning other languages, was chosen as an alternate.
“Five other Ole Miss students and I created MYRA, My Reflective Assistant, in response to the needs of females ages 18 to 35,” said Andersson, a senior from Ridgeland who is majoring in marketing information systems. “With this funding, we move one step closer to launching the prototype, patenting and selling the product.”
A junior finance major from Jackson, Matlock came up with “Interactive Languages” as a means to help children and young adults master learning foreign languages faster.
“The idea is to immerse them in the culture through the virtual reality software,” he said. “A prototype of the software is on the drawing board. These funds will definitely assist us in developing the actual product.”
The fifth competitor was David Flynn, a sophomore marketing information systems major from Louisville, Kentucky, who created Hangaround LLC, an aviation social network.
Pitch competitions at UM are particularly interesting compared with those held in other places, said Justin Burch, DRA programs director.
“This place is obviously the place for rural millennial innovation,” he said.
Participants each had an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. During the three-minute pitch, entrepreneurs addressed the critical questions of each category, while maintaining the flow, pace and consistency of a good business pitch. Entrepreneurs then had one minute to answer questions from the judges.
Pitches were evaluated on presentation, business model, organizational structure, financial objectives, market, risk and competitive advantage scalability.
Fellows are invited to participate in a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week 2017. While at NOEW, they have access to seminars, workshops and mentorship from panelists and industry experts as well as opportunities to showcase their company to a panel of investors.