Brooke Brazer '16 had modest expectations when she registered for Charlotte Startup Weekend, an entrepreneurship competition in which participants build new businesses from scratch.
"I began the weekend with the impression that I would not be a frontrunner," said Brazer, a psychology major from Simsbury, Conn. "But by the end, I learned that if you have a vision that other people share, there's no telling how far you can go."
Brazer and her startup, Pantrea, won first place with help from Cy Ferguson '16 and DiemTien Le '17. Pantrea seeks to provide meal plans and grocery lists tailored by dieticians for individuals' health needs. The prizes awarded to Brazer and her team include free legal services, a scholarship to Tech Talent South coding academy and two tickets to the Southeast Venture Conference, a larger showcase for startup business in Charlotte on March 31.
Charlotte Startup Weekend began on Friday, Feb. 27 with an open call for any participant to present an idea for a new business. Judges then narrowed the pool down to 10 finalists. Participants formed teams and spent the rest of the weekend creating business plans, building websites, spawning social media accounts and preparing for the final presentation to the judges on Sunday.
Brazer explained that her initial pitch was very different than her team's finished product, Pantrea. "I initially pitched a business called ‘Recipe Box,' a meal planning app that includes recipes and grocery lists for specific diets," she said. "But when my team formed, we found that concept already existed, so we had to perform a ‘pivot'"-shifting direction based on market needs and competition.
"We eventually decided to create a business that includes dieticians in the dieting and menu-making process," she said. "That's an idea that hasn't really been capitalized yet."
Other Davidson students and alumni made a strong showing at Startup Weekend. Amanda Silver '15 and Andrew Liu '14 won second runner up for "NormBreaker," a mobile game that encourages players to break social norms.
Andrew Hathaway '08 won the audience favorite award with teammates Bjorn Ordoubadian '16 and Joe Zhou '17 for "Book of Business," an app to help retiring business professionals sell their client lists to new professionals entering the market.
"Working with an alum was a great experience," said Ordoubadian of Hathaway. "Competing with him in Startup Weekend taught me that you can't do everything by yourself. You have to rely on the skills of your teammates."
Brazer said her Davidson experience gave her a leg up on the competition. "The Davidson work ethic is something you take for granted until you leave campus," she said, smiling. "Startup Weekend showed me how determined my fellow Davidson students are, no matter the setting."
Brazer said her teammates have expressed interest in continuing to grow Pantrea into a viable business. She also may enter Pantrea in the on-campus Ideas of March social entrepreneurship competition sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement, and apply to the Avinger Scholars Program for young entrepreneurs.
"I'm glad Davidson is cultivating entrepreneurship among students," said Brazer. "A liberal arts education gives you innumerable skills, and entrepreneurship provides a great outlet to try them out in a dynamic, practical setting."