Four University of the Virgin Islands students won $60,000 in the final round of the 2nd Annual 13D Entrepreneur Competition held Friday, May 3, in UVI’s Administration and Conference Center on St. Thomas. A St. Croix team consisting of Kalayar Myint and Duane Sydney were awarded $30,000 for their first place win. Using the business name DK Shrimp Farm, Myint and Sydney plan to raise and sell shrimp in the Caribbean. Both will earn degrees from UVI on Sunday, May 12. Myint will receive a bachelor’s in business administration with a minor in accounting and Sydney will receive an associate’s of science degree in process technology.
“I feel great about winning first place,” Myint said. “We are definitely going to start our business -- to supply local people with a cheaper price than they are getting right now.”
Sharon Seibert won $20,000 for Ta’loo-ard Paddlesail and Macy Miles won $10, 000 for her on-line business Jaz’ Abroad. Seibert will sell her paddle and sail watersports products in the Virgin Islands and U.S. mainland. Miles will create an online shopping business designed to allow people living abroad to get products that would be unavailable to them without her website.
The four emerged victorious after presenting their business plans to a panel of six judges on Friday. They competed against eight other teams with complete business plans and some with products, business licenses, patents and manufacturing supply lines. The 13D competition began last fall with 109 students.
The other competitors included Thomas Bradley, who proposed the creation of Solar Section -- an installation company; Mary George, with her plush Caribbean doll company Karibbean Kids; Dinahlee Brewster, with her soap and candle company Body Kisses; Sarai Smith, who hopes to open a shoe and leather shop, and Khanisha Figaro who plans to distribute extra virgin coconut.
For the first time, the 13D Entrepreneurship Competition also had a high school competition. On Friday, Antilles School Freshman Jonathon Woods became the first winner. He received $1,000 to start Rock City Hydro, a soil-less home garden company. Woods was presented with engraved trophies for his school and for himself.
Israel Soodeen, of Good Hope School, was awarded $500 for the second place prize. He is developing an online reservation website for local restaurants. Central High School team Sherise Gumbs and Jesus Rivera were awarded $250 for their school supply business. Each winning team member received an iPad Mini tablet. The high school competition concluded in April, with final presentations and judging taking place at UVI on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
13D judge and UVI Professor Dr. Alex Randall encouraged all of the contestants to pursue their business idea. “We are all impressed that all of these businesses were viable, workable, ready-to-go enterprises,” Randall said. “You are all to be commended. All of you should be pursing these business ideas. Whether you win today or not go for it.”
UVI 13D Coordinator Glen Metts also encouraged the contestants to continue to seek funding for their businesses. Dr. Metts arranged for the students to hear from the Government Development Bank and the Economic Development Authority during a lunch break on Friday.
The student entrepreneurship competitions were made possible by a $5 million gift to UVI from investment strategist and entrepreneur Kiril Sokoloff, the founder of 13D Research on St. Thomas. The gift supports 13D Student Entrepreneurship Competitions, a Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship Endowed Chair and the Entrepreneurial Speaker Series at UVI. The first college-level 13D Student Entrepreneurship Competition concluded in May, 2012. The first presentation in the speaker series was made in March by acclaimed business woman and philanthropist Loida Nicolas. The 13D Competition is sponsored by Innovative Companies, which has made a significant long-term commitment of $50,000 a year to support the entrepreneurship effort.
For more information contact Dr. Glenn Metts, an associate professor of management who directs entrepreneurship education at UVI, at (340) 693-1303.
Photo cutline: University of the Virgin Islands students Kalayar Myint and Duane Sydney presented their business plan on Friday, May 3, at the 13D Entrepreneurship competition in the Administration and Conference Center on the St. Thomas Campus.