Career & Entrepreneurship Center

  CEC at St. Petersburg College

9th Annual Business Plan & Elevator Pitch Competition

On April 18th, we will host the ninth annual competition featuring our student finalist who will compete for cash prizes totaling over $10,000. Since 2010, when we launched the program, SPC has awarded over $85,000 to our students for their innovative business ideas. If you are a student or recent graduate with a unique business idea consider entering the 2019 competition.  For information and deadlines review the information provided. 

IMPORTANT DATES for the 9th Annual Business Plan & Elevator Pitch Competition:

April 18th - Competition & Awards Ceremony - RSVP to ATTEND the Upcoming Competition. (

Have questions? Please email your questions to:

  • Sponsors
  • Prizes
  • Eligibility
    & Rules
  • Resources
  • Criteria/Judges
  • Previous

Thank you to our Current Sponsors:

Great Bay Distributors
Wells Fargo
Superior Uniform Group
City of Seminole Seminole Chamber
lsg Scarr
Sandy Hartman & Associates


Great Bay Distributors
Zilling Family Superior Uniform Group
Wells Fargo
Golden Fund
Tri-Sense Scarr
A.D. Morgan Corporation lsg
City of Seminole Seminole Chamber
Ameriprise Sandy Hartman & Associates
DeLoach and Hofstra, PA Regions
JCL & Associates CL
JCL & Associates Cengage Learning



Total cash prizes awarded up to $10,000:
Competition Category Prize Award Amount
Business Plan 1st Place $5,000
Business Plan 2nd Place $2,500
Elevator Pitch 1st Place $1,000
Elevator Pitch 2nd Place $500
Special Recognition Awards Awards
(up to 4)
$250 each
Special Recognition People's Choice Award Audience Polling Prize $250

Business Plan & Elevator Pitch Competition
Eligibility and Rules

  • The competition is open to all current SPC full or part-time students enrolled in a degree or certificate program, Early College students who meet the criteria and students who graduated with an SPC degree or certificate in 2018.
  • Enrolled students who are also faculty (adjunct or full time) or college administrators may not participate in the competition.
  • Students may participate in teams—in which case each member of the team must be an enrolled SPC student.
  • Team submissions will be accepted but all team members must meet the criteria individually and any prizes for winning team entries will be divided equally between student participants/presenters.
  • Non-students may be members of the management team and may have taken part in the planning of the venture but they are not eligible to present in the competition or receive prize money.
  • All applications and submissions will be accepted online.
  • Eligible students may submit one entry in each level of the competition (Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Levels).
  • All participants MUST complete the Information Session online that will explain details of the competition expectations, requirements and help prepare students to compete.
  • Participants selected for awards, semi-finals and final rounds of the competition must sign the Consent and Release Form
  • The competition is for student proposed or created, managed, and owned ventures therefore students must have:
    1. played a major role in conceiving the venture
    2. an existing key management role in the business or proposed venture
    3. 50% or more equity in the venture
  • An equity position of less than 50% of the entity will be subject to verification of evidence showing that the student is a major contributor to the venture creation.
  • The business plan or elevator pitch must represent original work of the student(s) entering the competition.
  • The competition is intended for new venture formations, start-ups, early growth stage businesses, or businesses undergoing diversification.
  • Semi-Finalists and special recognition award winners are required to attend a mandatory on campus training session.
  • Finalist must participate in all mandatory coaching sessions and a dress rehearsals scheduled with mentors to maintain their finalist position and be allowed to compete at the event.
  • Students who are unable to attend the competition will forego their placement in the competition and their prize(s). Attendance at the competition is a requirement for receiving monetary awards.
  • The winning students receiving monetary awards will be required to complete IRS tax forms and are responsible for the tax implications of prizes.
  • The winning students will be required to pick up award checks at SPC with official identification, and complete an Acknowledgement of Receipt Form.
  • Student may also be required to participate in post competition activities that may include but are not limited to: sponsor recognition luncheons, filming sessions, speaker panels, club or class visits to discuss and support ongoing efforts and student participation in the competition and the Entrepreneurship Program.
  • Students who have previously participated in an SPC Business Plan & Elevator Pitch Competition and were selected in the finals for a category (i.e.- business plan or elevator pitch) may still compete in the other remaining category, or may be awarded special recognition awards only.
  • Participants are expected to be respectful of competition administrators and directors, judges, staff, facilitators, mentors, fellow student participants and competitors.
    1. Students are expected to exhibit professionalism, sportsmanship and compete in good faith throughout the duration of the competition process.
    2. Students should be mindful of the broader spirit of the program and respect the commitment made by the College, the competition administrators and the business community who contribute to making the opportunity possible.
  • All decisions by the competition administrators are considered official, binding, and not subject to appeal. Such decisions may include, but are not limited to:
    • Judgments about eligibility to participate in the Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Competition.
    • Determining whether student conduct is in accordance with expectations.
    • Confirming judges’ scoring in all competition rounds.
    • Judgments on matters not already covered by the rules.


Please contact us if you have any questions.

Meet the Judges

Tonya Elmore
President, TBIC- Tampa Bay Innovation Center

Ms. Elmore is a founder and the president of the STAR-TEC Enterprises, Inc. dba Tampa Bay Innovation Center. The Innovation Center, a not-for-profit that works with early-stage technology companies, is a regional, national and international known success story that has been in operation for nine years that continues to build momentum in Pinellas County, Florida.  Read More...

Dr. Cynthia Johnson, Ed. D
Senior Manager, PCED-Pinellas County Economic Development Center

Dr. Cynthia Johnson is the Center Director for the Florida Small Business December Center at Pinellas County Economic Development since 2000. FSBDC at PCED is a government funded business retention, expand and assistance agency, which promotes new and existing business development and expansion. Read More...

Mark E. Swanson
VP Bright House Networks

Mark Swanson is a serial technology entrepreneur who has successfully started and grown six multi-million dollar companies in the last twenty plus years. Most recently, Mark was the co-founder and CEO of Tampa-based, Telovations, a three time Inc. 500/5000 Company which was founded in 2006 and sold to Bright House Networks in December 2012. Mark has started and grown technology businesses in Atlanta, New York, Silicon Valley and Tampa Bay. Mark started his career in the United States Army where he commanded several military units including forming the first unit of Apache attack helicopters. Later, he managed several high tech projects as a test pilot. Read More...

Chuck Papageorgiou
CEO & Founder, International Screening Solutions Managing Partner, Ideasphere

Chuck Papageorgiou is the Co-Founder and CEO of International Screening Solutions a company that provides risk management services to the background screening industry, and the Founder and Managing Partner of Ideasphere — a company that specializes in the high-tech, light manufacturing, logistics, and financial services segments. He brings his global experience in technology and operations, both as a consultant and an executive, to actively assist senior executives of client companies with their organizational strategic challenges. Read More...

Judging Criteria

  • Innovativeness of Idea
  • Addresses Market Need
  • Uniqueness of Solution
  • Feasibility of Solution
  • Differentiation from Competition
  • Credible Industry Facts
  • Clear and Sizable Target Market
  • Passion and Presentation of Entrepreneur
  • Creative Marketing Strategy
  • Strength of Leadership Team
  • Profit Potential of Business Model and Sound Financial Plan
  • Implementable Project Management
  • Overall Promise of Concept

8th Annual Winners - 2018


Business Plan Winners:

    • Eve Barrett - 1st Place - $5,000
    • Ashley Brown – 2nd Place - $2,500

Elevator Pitch Winners:

    • Clifford Hobbs – 1st Place - $1,000
    • Alex Matos - 2nd Place - $500

People’s Choice Winner

    • Clifford Hobbs - $250

Special Recognition Awards:

    • Jeffery Thomas– US Veteran Concept - $250
    • Jynne Camp – Green Business Concept Award - $250
    • Ashley Brown - Entrepreneurship in the Arts - $250

7th Annual Winners - 2017

2017 Winners

Business Plan Winners:

    • Wiliam McMillan - 1st Place - $5,000
    • Emelle Tunceren – 2nd Place - $2,500

Elevator Pitch Winners:

    • Erica Sager – 1st Place - $1,000
    • Marquis Matt - 2nd Place - $500

People’s Choice Winner

    • Erica Sager - $250

Special Recognition Awards:

    • Merrie Pina– Food & Beverage Business Concept Award - $250
    • Marquis Matt – Green Business Concept Award - $250
    • Ashley Wehse - Golden Fund - Triple Bottom Line Award - $2,000

Sixth Annual Winners - 2016

2015 Elevator Pitch Winners

Business Plan Winners:

    • Felicia Harris - 1st Place - $5,000
    • Alex Fisher – 2nd Place - $2,500

Elevator Pitch Winners:

    • Katie Hamm – 1st Place - $1,000
    • Lawrence Weglarz - 2nd Place - $500

People’s Choice Winner

    • Felicia Harris

Special Recognition Awards (alphabetical order):

    • Nikole Coonts – Food Innovation
    • Bradyn Freeman – Green Business Concept
    • Jason Scott - Golden Fund-Sustainable Concept - Triple Bottom Line Award
    • Lawrence Weglarz – James Olliver Award for Service & Innovation

Fifth Annual Winners - 2015

2015 Elevator Pitch Winners

Business Plan Winners:

    • Rebecca Rodriguez -1st Place - $5,000
    • Nykko Ford -2nd Place - $2,500

Elevator Pitch Winners:

    • Michael Ganote - 1st Place - $1,000
    • David Thut - 2nd Place - $500

People’s Choice Winner

    • Rebecca Rodriguez

Special Recognition Awards (alphabetical order):

    • Quentin Cumings - Social Entrepreneurship Concept
    • Kira Gilson - Golden Fund-Sustainable Concept - Triple Bottom Line Award
    • Kathleen Loney - Service Entrepreneurship
    • Luz Perry - Fitness & Health Concept

Fourth Annual Winners - 2014

2014 Competition Winners

2014 Competition Winners and Sponsors

Business Plan Winners:

    • James Finn -1st Place - $5,000
    • Dwain Ream – 2nd Place - $2,500

Elevator Pitch Winners:

    • Madison Miller – 1st Place - $1,000
    • Adria Bernstein -2nd Place - $500

Special Recognition Awards (alphabetical order):

    • Justin Blankenship – Internet/Web & Social Media Concept
    • Maureen Davis – Service Entrepreneurship
    • Donald Kiernan – Safety Concept
    • Melisa Maxey – Social Entrepreneurship Concept
    • Patricia Wing – Sustainable Business Concept

Third Annual Winners - 2013

2013 winners

Business Plan Winners:

    • Yvette Collins - 1st Place - $5,000
    • Chelsea Gibson - 2nd Place - $2,500

Elevator Pitch Winners:

    • Marie Rogers - 1st Place - $1,000
    • Stephanie Addis - 2nd Place - $500

Special Recognition Awards (alphabetical order):

    • Matthew Allan – Service Concept
    • Lisa Manners – Social/Community Entrepreneurship
    • Kyle McCormick – Innovative Educational Concept and Approach
    • Carl Thorne – Innovative Consumer Product

Second Annual Winners - 2012

2012 winners

Business Plan Winners:

    • Nicole Bredeson - 1st Place - $5,000
    • Sarah Godbey - 2nd Place - $2,000

Elevator Pitch Winners:

    • Josh Martin & Tomasz Symecki - 1st Place - $1,000
    • Michelle Whitley - 2nd Place - $500

Special Recognition Awards (alphabetical order):

    • Ricardo Colon – Internet/Web & Social Media Concept
    • Sarah Godbey – Best Consumer Product
    • Sammie Manning - Innovative Concept in Technology
    • Ellen Noel - Best Service Concept
    • Michelle Whitley – Fitness & Health Concept
    • Patricia Wing – Green Concept

First Annual Winners - 2011

2011 winners

Business Plan Winners:

    • Bonnie Lynch - 1st Place - $5,000
    • Deborah Jewel-Curreri - 2nd Place - $2,000

Elevator Pitch Winners:

    • Nicole Bredeson - 1st Place - $1,000
    • Marie Rogers - 2nd Place - $500

Special Recognition Awards (alphabetical order):

    • Domenic Caloia
    • Ricardo Carreno
    • Joseph Farrell
    • Bonnie Lynch
    • Kristie Mack
    • Luis Valle