Internship app gets $5,000 prize

Mar 27, 2017

PANTHER 2017 shark tank winner

From left are Rashshanda Blackwood; Dr. Charles Richardson, dean of the Claflin School of Business, and Kareem Heslop. Blackwood and Heslop won the $5,000 grand prize at Claflin’s Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition for their internship app for STEM students. (Special to The Panther)


Two science majors, Kareem Heslop and Rashshana Blackwood, won first place at the fourth annual Claflin University Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition.

The competition, loosely modeled after the ABC show “Shark Tank,” took place on March 20 at the Grace Thomas Kennedy auditorium with five teams competing for the grand prize of $5,000.

Heslop and Blackwood’s award-winning business plan, STEAMtern, is an internship app for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The purpose of the app is to provide college students with information on internships.

“I feel excited,” Heslop said after winning. “We had a good feeling we had a competitive plan, but we saw some of the other teams and they were just as competitive.”

Heslop and Blackwood, both from Jamaica, are seniors and will be graduating in May.

“I believe we were more thorough and used extensive research,” Blackwood said.

Heslop and Blackwood plan to go to graduate school this fall but are going to work on the app as well.

“We plan to establish and have it launched soon; funds would help us greatly,” Blackwood said.

Heslop said they are being assisted in transforming their entry into a business by Dominic Bett of Kenya, a former Claflin student now employed by Dell, and Dr. Randall Harris, Claflin assistant professor of biology.

Second place with a prize of $3,000 went to Terrence Izzard and Tracy Peele for their Green/Eco-Friendly University proposal. Their plan focused on transforming historically black colleges and universities into eco-friendly environments with landscape enhancements and paperless solutions.  Both are in the Master of Business Administration program at Claflin.

The other teams were:

  • ZZZBit: Kortez Chisolm, Shanequa Jones and Benjamin Baker finished third to win $1,200 for their Mosquito Sticker for Kids, a mosquito repellant. The three are senior organizational management majors.
  • Super Shoulder: Aaron Perry, Travis Martinez and Dillion Parker placed fourth and won $500 for their athletic shoulder device. Perry and Martinez are junior marketing majors and Parker is a sophomore marketing major.
  • Digital license plate: Xavier Hampton and Colin Wagner were fifth and received $300.  Both are juniors majoring in business administration.

    The competitors were impressed with the work of others.

    Dillon Parker said, “I was the model for the shoulder shirt. After seeing the other teams' present, I knew we needed to do more work.”

    The judges were:

  • Gail Fogle, senior vice president for First Citizens Bank in Orangeburg.
  • Rachelle Jamerson, owner of Three Matriarch Bed and Breakfast in Orangeburg.
  • Thomas J. Smith, executive director of the S.C. Commission for Minority Affairs.
  • Kenneth Middleton, president and CEO of the Middleton Companies in Orangeburg.

“We were very impressed with the creativity,” said Dr. Robin Davis, assistant professor of management in the School of Business at Claflin and an organizer of the competition. “The students also displayed a keen understanding of business principles and the viability of their products and services in a competitive marketplace.”

Davis and Abdullah Khan helped the students prepare over a six-month period.

“The students are thinking in, out and all around the box,” Davis said.

The Claflin University Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition has a record of success in its four-year history.

In 2015, Michael DeVore, a business administration major, led the top-placing team, which included students from accounting, finance, marketing and computer science. DeVore's product, a barber shop app called "Live Chair," is now in the Apple store.
In 2016, the winning concept, called "Body Barrier," was developed by Angelo Hornsby, a business management major, and Xavier Robertson, a biology major. They developed body-recovery performance wear for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. They used the prize money and invested it directly into their company.

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