Two of the three winners of Main Street Ventures' 2nd Annual Launch It: Cincy Pitch Competition, an event that features pitches by undergraduate student-founders from universities across the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and Greater Dayton region, are Miami University and John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship students.
Coarse Culture, founded by VaLanDria Smith-Lash (senior Speech Pathology and Audiology). Coarse Culture is a member of the RedHawk Launch Accelerator's eighth startup cohort. The company developed and markets an all-natural line of plant-based, whipped shea butter products. Its vegan whipped shea butter comes in six fragrances and offers numerous benefits for hair and skin.
"What is so impressive about Coare Culture, and VaLanDria specifically, is how she has taken "the next step" with her business, plugging into the Miami University and Cincinnati startup ecosystem to get her business to scale," Daniel Jones, associate director of Community Engagement and External Relations, said. "Networking, reaching out to alumni, and collaborating with other students are all great ways to promote both student-founded business and the university."
Nosh, cofounded by Connor Paton (senior Finance and Entrepreneurship) and Macallan Hoeweler (junior Economics, Entrepreneurship minor). Nosh finished in fourth place in the 2022 Fall RedHawk Ventures Pitch Competition this past December.
"A judge at the Redhawk Pitch Competition asked them to consider the Main Street Venture Pitch Competition. Connor took the lead to apply, even though the deadline was the next day!" entrepreneurship instructor Brenda Homan said. "Having encouragement from the judges and others to press forward, even if it's a startup idea created from a required class, is a strong part of the Miami ecosystem."
Main Street Ventures' Launch It: Cincy Pitch Competition prize package provides funding to winning teams to stay in Cincinnati over the summer, build relationships within the Startup Cincy Ecosystem, and focus on building their business. The prize package includes: housing, living expenses, office space, connections with other student-founders working in Cincinnati, network access and mentoring, attorney hours, accounting hours, and the opportunity to seek additional funding from Main Street Ventures.
This is the second consecutive year that entrepreneurship students have dominated this regional startup competition. Last year, Emil Barr (senior Economics, International Studies, and Entrepreneurship), Founder and CEO at Step Up Social, Ben Corwin (2021 graduate in Journalism and Entrepreneurship), Founder and CEO at Obscure Euro Parts, and Blake Faulkner (senior) in Finance and Entrepreneurship), Founder and CEO at Bloxsmith, swept the top three spots.