The Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), in conjunction with the University of The Bahamas (UB) northern campus, hosted its first Pitch Night competition on the island of Grand Bahama.
The event allowed six UB students to share their business plans with judges and attendees.
Walking away with the grand prize of a $10,000 grant was Founder and CEO of Keeping It Clean Tarentee Laing. Hilary Huyler, founder and CEO of Happy Hour Tours, placed second and received a $5,000 grant.
Laing admitted that he was very nervous about Pitch Night, even feeling nauseated at the beginning, but was able to relax and feel at ease as soon as he began talking about the progress and expansion of his healthy food takeaway. Overall, Laing described the experience at Pitch Night as excellent.
“For me, this is about four or five years that I’ve been a self-starting entrepreneur and I feel like this is the first time that I see the fruits of my labor,” said Laing. “I feel like [Pitch Night] gives you the right amount of motivation to keep going and pushing. Especially in Freeport right now in this current economic state that we are in, it is not easy at all to be a young entrepreneur so having pitch competitions where you can get funding, that really helps us to keep pushing.”
Huyler, who came up with his company’s party bike idea about four years ago, described his experience at Pitch Night as a little nerve-racking, but fun as he enjoys competition and experiences that take him out of his comfort zone and allow him to share his passion for his business.
“The experience was great. I love people, I love networking and I love being able to hear other people’s ideas,” said Huyler. “It gets me excited. Our country is so small in terms of population, so for me being from Grand Bahama where there is so much land, so much potential for growth, to see other entrepreneurs from different walks of life and different age groups come together to pursue their dreams, and we feed off of each other, and we learn from each other – it was the perfect experience.”
Dr. Ian Strachan, vice president of UB North, said that hosting the first Pitch Night at UB highlighted the vision and intelligence of students and further reinforced his belief that the university and the SBDC will be the driving force to transforming Grand Bahama’s economy.
“As a tripartite partner in the Small Business Development Centre, it was a pleasure for us to host the first Pitch Night here at UB North in support of the SBDC,” said Strachan. “The students showed us how intelligent and vision-focused they are, and we are excited to continue developing their skills.
“We believe that the university along with the SBDC will be major economic drivers of transforming the Grand Bahama economy and contributing to our country and world at large. We look forward to further working with our students to develop them into entrepreneurs we know they can be.”
Also present at the Pitch Night was the director of the Grand Bahama division of the SBDC, Yvette Oconno, who deemed the opportunity to see students show their business ideas and plans as an honor and privilege.
“Since the Access Accelerator has launched in Grand Bahama, we continue to be impressed by the mass number of Grand Bahamians that are wanting to venture into entrepreneurship,” said Oconno. “Seeing students of the University of The Bahamas display their talents was an honor and privilege, and we look forward to providing the support they need through training and access to capital to further develop those businesses.”
The SBDC is the product of a tripartite arrangement between the government, through the Ministry of Finance, the University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC). The center will work to guide the development, funding, growth and evolution of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in The Bahamas.