One of the highlights of Global Entrepreneurship Week is the finale of the Leonard and Phyllis Attman Competitive Business Prize, and this year the event continued to showcase many of the University of Baltimore community's most talented and driven entrepreneurs.
With 21 students and recent alumni entering the competition, a team of preliminary judges narrowed the finalists to just six for the Nov.15 live finale. Those six were coached by volunteers affiliated with UB’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with the hopes that their business pitch would earn them the coveted Attman Prize.
Gathered in the M. Scot Kaufman Auditorium, a capacity crowd cheered on the competitors. One by one, each of the finalists articulated their business ideas to the judges and the audience. In the end, only one could earn the top prize of $2,500: this year's winner is Robin Holmes, B.S.'12 (human services administration major) and her Deddle's Mini Donuts food truck business.
Holmes's business is known for serving hot and fresh mini donuts, crispy fried chicken, fresh squeezed lemonade, and local Baltimore coffee brand, Zeke's. Holmes shared her products and put together an outstanding business pitch. In addition to the prize money, Holmes received rent-free office space in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation so that she can grow her brand.
The Attman family were integral in selecting Deddle's Donuts as the winning pitch. Both Leonard and Phyllis Attman were judges, along with their daughter Wende Levitas, vice president for Attman Properties, and their granddaughter, Rebecca Steller, director of marketing and advertising for A&G Management Co. Rounding out the judging team were Ted Goloboski, B.S. '75 (business) and Beverly A. Cooper, board chairwomen of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.
UB Entrepreneurship Fellow Hiba Mohammed was the competition's runner-up and also voted Crowd Favorite, for her for-profit online retail business which designs and sells sports clothing for active Muslim women of all ages.
Mohammed saw that there was a need for her product, after watching her daughter playing soccer in the heat. She noticed how uncomfortable her daughter was in the layers of clothing she wears in order to meet the modesty requirements of her faith. For her efforts, Mohammed won $500, plus an additional $250 for being selected as Crowd Favorite. Each of the remaining contestants won $100 for making it to the finals.
The Six Finalists
- Jean-Paul Badjo and Meejee Kim – Badjo Suit is the world's first fully customizable exoskeleton suit that can be adapted for many purposes.
- Robin Holmes – Deddle’s Donuts is a food truck that sells mini donuts and buttermilk fried chicken strips throughout Baltimore.
- Hiba Mohammed – Asli is a for-profit online retailer that designs and sells sports clothing for active Muslim women of all ages.
- Lisa Parisi – Mandala Massage Baltimore LLC is a holistic health service that offers massage therapy and acupuncture to employees of mid-size companies.
- Mustafa Wahid – TransitioningU is an evidence-based mobile student success platform that helps higher education institutions retain students through automated coaching.
- Shane Yeager – ShortKlips is a marketing service that provides an easy way for businesses and agencies to create, measure and implement video across the channels to their consumers.