Health Product Serves Greater Good and Claims Social Venture Challenge Title

Kelsey Fetzer ’16 and Andrew Fiedler ’16 (pictured above) brought their product, EnerTea, from the kitchens of Tavilla Hall and Chase Hall to the Social Venture Challenge—where it earned first place, claiming a $5,000 grant. EnerTea is a green tea energy shot that is served in a sleek tea leaf straw. The product’s unique business plan is to employ high-functioning mentally disabled adults from Bridgewell, a local home where Fiedler volunteers. “These employees will assemble boxes, put labels on them,” says Fielder, “all in an effort to make the mentally disabled person feel valued.”

The second annual Social Venture Challenge, hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, took place on April 22 before a lively audience in the Chairman’s Room of the Ken Olsen Science Center at Gordon. A host of judges from esteemed organizations were on hand to select the winners, in a process similar to the television show Shark Tank. The five competing teams had risen to the top during the semi-final competition earlier this month. Each team was allowed a five-minute pitch, followed by a Q&A session with the judges. After hearing all five pitches, the judges then convened to determine the top three ventures, each of which would receive a portion of the $10,000 total grant to fund their start-ups.

Judges included Eric Stumberg, co-founder and CEO of TengoInternet, a leading provider of turnkey WiFi services to the lodging and hospitality market; Kevin Tordoff, vice president of marketing at HOPE International, a Christian microfinance nonprofit; Dr. Dale Eesley, director of the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Franchising at the University of Nebraska, Omaha; Sydney Price, senior vice president for corporate responsibility, commerce cause at Kate Spade; and Will Haughey, co-founder and chief blockhead of Tegu, the first magnetic wooden building blocks for children.

Sisters Stevie ’15 and Christina Schweighardt ’18 received a $3,000 grant for their nonprofit, Every Week, an organization that will provide feminine products to women’s homeless shelters.

Earning the final grant of $2,000 for third place was Rise Sri Lanka, a nonprofit venture proposed by David Popa ’15, Peter Huang ’15 and Michelle Waduacharige ’17. Popa, an art major and renowned muralist in the Gordon community, will embark on a 15-day mural expedition this summer to promote ethnic reconciliation and change the public conversation about Sri Lanka.

The two other finalist teams were Nathanael Lee ’16 and Emily David ’16, whose venture was Lifelong Education at Gordon College, as well Peter Story ’15 and Nathaniel Hunt ’15, who pitched K-2 Coding, a nonprofit organization that would offer after-school computer programming classes to middle school students.

By Daniel Simonds ’18, Communication Arts