HBCU Students Win BE Smart Case Competition

One team experienced technical difficulties–but remained unflappable. Another used impressive primary research; still another included extensive research on competitors; but the team that won presented the most actionable solution of all.

The BE Smart Case Competition–hosted by Shell, supported by our partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and by Lenovo–at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit in Miami Beach, Florida, offered a glimpse at tomorrow’s leaders–and from where I sat, the future looks good.

Student teams from four historically black colleges had been working for a minimum of four weeks to devise solutions to a problem that had been solicited from Industrial Bank, a black-owned bank in Washington, D.C.: How can Industrial Bank market financial products to millennials?

To mitigate bias for or against any team, the judges did not know the schools the teams represented–neither did the audience–until a winner was determined. But there’s no reason to keep you in suspense. The teams presented in this order:

  • Fort Valley State University: Abrahana James, Jarvis Pressley, Montrell King, and Sheronda Wilkerson
  • Morgan State University: Kristen Selby, Maliik Nelson, Mariyah Bryant, and Tracy Eziama
  • Florida A&M University: Brooke Slauter, Shytina Harley, and Walter Bennet
  • Hampton University: Brielle Lewis, Macie Owens, and Mykail James

And the winner is … FAMU!

Although each team of HBCU students provided excellent content and presented in a way that was energetic and well-paced, FAMU bowled the judges over with its presentation quality and flow, its use of a personal narrative–Hope, who put a face on the millennial market–in addition to its clear, specific, actionable solution.

The competition was engagingly facilitated by Felecia Hatcher, co-founder and CEO of Code Fever Miami, serial entrepreneur, and sought-after speaker; and skillfully judged by Scott Brown of Georgia-Pacific, Trabian Shorters of the BMe Community, and Eric Lyons of the National Black MBA Association.

For more information about the BE Smart Case Competition and the Entrepreneurs Summit, go to its website.