The 2021 Annual Meredith (Social) Entrepreneurship Challenge!

*Submissions due by 11:59 p.m. on February 18th, 2021

The Meredith (Social) Entrepreneurship Challenge (MSEC) is an annual venture idea competition with a special emphasis on societal needs. Student groups compete for a grand prize of $2,000! Since 2017, the M(S)EC has given away more than $30,000 in prize money, featured 122 student participants, and welcomed feedback from more than 20 women entrepreneurs as judges and mentors. The competition is sponsored by the Meredith College School of Business and the Entrepreneurship Program. Please contact Dr. Woolard at for questions or more information.

Who: Any Meredith student (undergraduate or graduate) may enter the competition.

What: Entrepreneurship competition. You’ll enter your business/nonprofit idea via Google form (Link above). Approximately five Semifinalists groups will be selected and assigned a real entrepreneur as a mentor. Semifinalists will pitch their idea in a virtual (Zoom) “Sharktank Style” presentation.

When: Google form submission due at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, February 18th. Semifinalists will be named by Friday, February 26th, and assigned a woman entrepreneur as a mentor. There will be a required workshop toward the end of March and then the virtual zoom pitch in early April.

Where: Competition associated with Meredith College and sponsored by the School of Business. All events and activities take place on campus or through virtual format.

Why: The competition is in association with the Meredith College entrepreneurship program. Meredith has a minor and MBA concentration in Entrepreneurship & Family Business. Students in the entrepreneurship program are encouraged to enter the competition but any student is welcome. Students enrolled in BUS 306 – Leadership Innovation, and Social Responsibility during the spring term have an opportunity to develop their idea as part of the class.

Past Competitions – Participants & Judges

2020 M(S)EC Finalists

Check-out the 2020 M(S)EC video here!

First Place –  The Nursery Bulb – Nikki Murdoch

The Nursery Bulb is a sleep and health-friendly light source for baby nurseries to improve a new mom’s quality of life and public health as a whole.

Second Place – Talk Some Cents – Yvonne Damon 

Talk Some Cents provides everyday financial advice, in layman’s terms, to the general public through an app. The goal of this business is to provide low level financial consulting to people that cannot afford a proper financial consultant, but still need help managing their money.

Third Place Two Girls and a Tailgate – Sydney Hardee & Mary Margaret Gill

Two Girls and a Tailgate is a catering tailgate business, that brings the tailgate to you. The business offers our customers the unique experience of having a completely worry-free tailgating experience. We offer the convenience of setting up their tailgate, bringing the food together, and more, so all our customers have to do is show up and enjoy the game.

2019 MSEC Winners:

  1. Julia Johnson – BrewBus
  2. Lo Alpin – FLEXECOS
  3. Hank Flynn – Myceres

2018 MSEC Winners:

  1. Santiago Bejarano, Hari Kota – Med Sleeve
  2. Bruklyn Miller – SYRE
  3. Christina Cowperthwait – Mt. Tabor Boarding & Grooming

2017 MSEC Winners:

  1. Brittany Barker – A Chance to Dance
  2. Jovita Lee – A Second Chance
  3. Christina Cowperthwait – Critter Cab

Past & Current Mentors & Judges

Cynthia Wheaton - Meredith College Class of 1975

Cynthia Wheaton – Meredith College Class of 1975

As a manager, Cynthia developed new ventures within Sara Lee Direct and World Book Encyclopedia. At Kestnbaum & Company, she learned the consulting business. After a decade as an independent database marketing consultant, she joined forces with her husband to create Wheaton Group LLC, a successful boutique consulting firm. She is author of “Are You Ready to Start Your Own Business? – A sanity check for those who dream of self-employment.”

Ruth Taylor - Meredith Friend & Advocate

Ruth Taylor – Meredith Friend & Advocate

Ruth Taylor is the owner of Mrs. Ruth’s Jams, an artisanal jam business specializing in small-batch, NC based jams ( Ruth also has a technology career ranging from offering management, marketing strategy, new business development, leading strategic partnerships, and mergers & acquisitions. Ruth has been involved as owner, investor, and advisor to many entrepreneurial businesses.

Mary Esther Baker - Meredith College Class of 1996

Mary Esther Baker – Meredith College Class of 1996

After retiring as a development officer with a large non-profit, Mary Esther Baker was inspired to develop Visit NC Concierge, a travel company showcasing North Carolina’s geography, history and culture. As a native North Carolinian passionate about the state, her knowledge and keen insights into the state are evident in the authentic, all-inclusive travel experiences she creates.

Betsy Best Phillips – Meredith College Class of 1971

Betsy’s work experience includes third party Accountant for GTE, senior accountant for PCS Phosphate of Saskatchewan, CFO for Rainmaker Marketing, Inc., senior property accountant for Highwoods Properties, Inc. REIT, and founder and principal of Best Commercial Properties a full service commercial real estate firm.

Remembering Peggy Beale, Class of 1977

Peggy Beale was the CEO of Paxton Company, a family-owned marine safety and industrial equipment supplier. Peggy served as a Meredith (Social) Entrepreneurship Challenge judge for the inaugural competition and virtual screening committee twice. She remained a loyal advocate of the entrepreneurship challenge and entrepreneurial education in general until her passing on October 13, 2019. Peggy was an amazing servant of Meredith College and we encourage you to visit here to learn more about her amazing life accomplishments and her numerous contributions to Meredith College.

Anne Douglass Scruggs – Meredith College ‘86

Anne is consistently recognized as one of the top 2% of real estate agents in the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ nationwide network. During her 24 years with BHHSYSU, she has put her Meredith Interior Design Major and Business Minor to use, staging listings, creating custom marketing plans for sellers and collaborating with buyers to find their ideal new home. Being resourceful, thinking outside the box and adapting to change are skills she fine-tuned at Meredith. Striving to be a lifetime learner and understanding the value of the strong Meredith community are two reasons she loves traveling with the Meredith Travel Group and participating in school events such as judging the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Carolyn Hriso – Meredith College

Growing up at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, Carolyn moved to Raleigh, NC after high school graduation to attend Hardbarger Business College. After finishing school, she worked for Burroughs Wellcome Co. (now GlaxoSmithKline) for twenty years. During these years, as she worked and raised a family, she attended Meredith College and earned a B.S. in Business Management and a B.A. in Communications. Her desire to teach focused on adult education and Carolyn chose to use her real estate skill set to help others achieve success in the industry. She taught pre and post-licensing for Superior School of Real Estate and JY Monk where she also taught CE and Ethics classes. She taught pre-licensing for St. Augustine College in Raleigh, NC where she served as an adjunct professor and taught post-licensing at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, NC. She was CEO of two real estate firms, one in NC and one in Colorado and served as Qualifying Broker for the state of NC for a third firm. She owns and teaches real estate education for The NC Real Estate School, LLC and serves as its Education Director. She is a Qualifying Broker/Broker-in-Charge/Owner of The NC Real Estate Firm, LLC.

Carolyn Leith – Meredith College ‘85

Carolyn is a 1985 graduate of Meredith College with a degree in business administration. She has worked in the financial services industry as a financial advisor for 30 years. She currently holds the designations Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA). She is with Robert W Baird & Co Inc. in Raleigh. Leith serves on the Board of Children’s Hope Alliance and is Vice-Chair of the Barium Springs/Grandfather Home Board.

Dana Dorroh – Mississippi State University

Dana is an accomplished, versatile, award-winning entrepreneur, inventor, creative doer, highly-skilled relationship builder, thoughtful professional who leads by example and who actively engages in entrepreneurial consulting, impact investing, connecting, and giving back. Over the years, Dana and her partners have started, grown, merged, and sold multiple businesses. Dana is the Managing Partner of One Source of NC, LLC, a woman-owned professional talent, innovation, and entrepreneurial consulting firm located in Raleigh, NC. This year, One Source of NC is celebrating it’s 19th year in business! Through Social Venture Circle (SVC), Dana is an impact investor currently invested in four organizations focused on agriculture, technology, and renewable energy. She currently serves on two non-profit Boards – TLC (Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities) and The SPCA of Wake County. With a BS in Engineering from Mississippi State University, Dana is drawn to lead businesses in a practical, innovative, and entrepreneurial way.

Susan Fogleman Gordon – Meredith College ‘79

Susan Fogleman Gordon graduated from Meredith College in 1979 with a B.A in History and an NC Teaching Certificate. She began her career as a 5 th grade teacher and earned a M.Ed. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1983. After being a stay at home mom and community volunteer while raising two children, Susan returned to the workforce in 1998 to assist her husband in his role as President/CEO of his family’s 108 year old printed paperboard packaging company, Winston Packaging, located in Winston-Salem, NC. At Winston Packaging, Susan has worked as the company’s marketing and communications manager as well as travel and special events planner. As senior advisor to the company President, she helped reposition the company to focus on retail display cartons for a variety of consumer products. This transition required the company to replace all its top customers from its prior business focus by identifying the right segments for successful growth.

Betty Lyn Walters-Eller – Meredith College ’83

Betty Lyn began her professional career in the fast-paced and creatively rich environment of the advertising agency business. In the agency world, she honed her skills in production and account management with home furnishings clients, and was quickly recruited to the furniture industry as Manager of Marketing Services at Masco Home Furnishings and on to Director of Advertising and Consumer Marketing for Drexel Heritage Furnishings. But, this born and bred Southerner left the area to give part of her heart—and skills – to New York City where she held positions as Home Furnishings Director, Country Living Magazine, Lifestyle Director, Shop Etc. Magazine and National Advertising Manager, for Oprah’s O at Home Magazine.

Darlene Whitehurst

Darlene is the President of Adsource Media, Inc/am3 adsource, an award-winning, WBENC certified  marketing and branding agency headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a female entrepreneur for over 20 years, Darlene and her team have provided creative, innovative and integrated solutions in marketing, media and brand management to Fortune 500 companies, specializing in healthcare and regulated industries. Consistently ranked as an expert in her field, she is also a three-time MVP award winner of the coveted Supplier Diversity Leadership Award honored by a Fortune 100 corporation. Recognized for her efforts in diversity and inclusion through minority partnerships, her passion to empower others led to her recent company, GF Global, LLC.

Judy Ramsey Roberts – Meredith College ’67

After graduating from Meredith in 1967 with a major in Business and Economics, Judy began her career with IBM as a Marketing Support Representative. After making 14 moves, Judy learned that she enjoyed designing new homes and making existing furniture look new in various locations. She went back to college and completed a new degree in Interior Design. Judy soon opened her own interior design business in Atlanta and Scottsdale and loved sharing creative ideas with clients for the next 10 years.

Kelly Cobb – Meredith College ’69

Kelly Cobb is a native of Smithfield NC; she received her BA in Business from Meredith College in 1969 and her MA from Appalachian State University. After a career in non-profits and with the Governor’s Office, Kelly began her real estate career in 1984…a perfect match for this extrovert who loves people and has a passion for being of service to others. For the past 32 years Kelly has been a top producer with Fonville Morisey, a Long and Foster Company. She owns her own office condo and leads a team of eight service oriented brokers. They all treat clients like members of the family.

Quintala Parham – Meredith College

Quintala Parham is a Level III Director with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Child Development from Meredith College. She was formerly the Director of Word of God Christian Daycare for sixteen years where she won many awards and achievements which include, Director of the Year Award and the Outstanding Supervisor Award. Upon her resignation from Word of God, she fulfilled her dream of starting her own Preschool. In 2008, Quintala opened Creedmoor Christian Daycare, which was the first five star center in Granville County. A few years later, she moved to Raleigh and started Arrow Christian Preschool (formerly Capital Christian Daycare). Quintala is a devoted wife and mother, a successful business owner, and author.

Rachel Riddle

Rachael Riddle is the founder and curator of The Local Squirrel, a lifestyle boutique in Raleigh’s historic Cameron Village. Most days you can find her in store, working with customers or snapping pictures for social media. On days off she loves exploring the local market scene, discovering new vendors to feature in the shop. She loves traveling and never met a lounge chair and book she doesn’t like.

Rhonda Smith Hicks – Meredith College

Rhonda holds a degree in Business Administration Management from Meredith College and, because of her new endeavors, is currently seeking certification in Positive Psychology at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.  Her corporate career has been in the fields of telecommunications and IT, primarily focusing on project, account, and personnel management.  In November 2009, Rhonda launched her first entrepreneurial venture – Amazing Grace Event Management (AGEM).  Over the past several years, she has had the opportunity to plan and manage events spanning from milestone celebrations and weddings to small business and large corporate tradeshows on both a national and international scale.  Last year, Rhonda expanded the company vision to include a consulting arm (now, AGEM and Consulting) to provide coaching support for businesses by offering Accountability Workshops to create and stimulate an environment of team synergy that will lead to the overall organizational success.

Caption: 2019 Elevator Pitch Challenge Winners: McKenzie May, Caitlin Chastain, Kathryn McNeil, Maddison Loewe, Jon Rosar (CEO & Founder of RevGen)
2019 Elevator Pitch Challenge Winners: McKenzie May, Caitlin Chastain, Kathryn McNeil, Maddison Loewe, Jon Rosar (CEO & Founder of RevGen)

Caption: 2019 Community Showcase
Community Showcase

2019 M(S)EC Winners. Julia Johnson, Logan Alpin, Hank Flynn.
2019 M(S)EC Winners. Julia Johnson, Logan Alpin, Hank Flynn.