By Jordan-Ashley Walker

Five teams of Old Dominion University Strome College of Business students won thousands of dollars in prize money to help further their business ideas in a ‘Shark Tank’ style competition. 

ODU’s Strome Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in partnership with the Strome College of Business, hosted its inaugural Opportunity Discovery Competition on Feb. 29 where students pitched business ideas and products to a panel of judges.   

Selected from an original pool of 17 team submissions, the five finalist teams presented their concepts for a chance to win up to $2,000 to jumpstart their ventures.

“Not only is the competition a way for students to win money, but it also helps recognize the importance of outside-the-box thinking,” said Kenneth B. Kahn, dean of the Strome College of Business. “The aim of the ODU Opportunity Discovery Competition is to catalyze student problem-solving and ideation in order to create a vibrant entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem across our campus.”

The first-place winners were team “Krave,” a black-owned, woman-led canned cocktail seltzer brand, founded by Aliyah Newman, Angel Hobbs and Rachel Ransom. Their prize of $2,000 will help them finalize manufacturers and distributors to bring their 12-ounce, canned, lemon-drop flavored cocktail to market. 

"We're looking forward to taking everything we've learned through this experience and making Krave canned cocktails available for everyone to enjoy," said team member Aliyah Newman, a Strome graduate student pursuing a certificate in public procurement and contract management.

Krave said one of their goals is to develop and diversify the spirits industry through mentorship and partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, minority community leaders, vendors and local businesses.

 “The Opportunity Discovery Competition allows us all — students, entrepreneurs, the business community and ODU — to see what we have here,” said Destini Harrell, Opportunity Discovery judge and Strome College of Business alumna. “There are a lot of very intelligent, driven, creative people who just need the space to do it. This enables us to see the assets right in our backyard, right where we are and to encourage other pathways that may not conventional.”

While Krave took home the top prize, the four other student teams were also awarded prize money to advance their business ideas. The competition team rankings were:

First Place ($2,000):  Krave incorporates classic cocktails into hard seltzers. The ready-to-go beverage will be conveniently sold in a variety of stores and restaurants across Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia and online.

Second Place ($1,000): Angel Faced Beauty creates quality beauty products that are sustainable, recyclable, eco-friendly and cruelty-free.

Third Place ($500):  Goober’s Grab & Go offers a vending machine stocked with parenting essentials. a credit card or cash can be used to select items like diapers, bottles, pacifiers, disposable bibs and more.

Participation Prize ($250): Wellness Walks uses Google Maps software and analytics to increase physical activity levels, stimulate social connections and gather insights to inform future health initiatives.

Participation Prize ($250): Golf Entertainment Group’s 3-Putt Pub is a putting course and bar that provides a unique sports and entertainment experience in Richmond, Virginia.

Competition judges were Oliver Aguilar, Engineering Manager, Newport News Shipbuilding/Huntington Ingalls Industries; Charles Corprew, Senior Venture Partner, 757 Collab; Kevin Leslie, Associate Vice President for Innovation and Commercialization, ODU Office of Research; Rob Gies, Deputy Chief Engineer, Newport News Shipbuilding/Huntington Ingalls Industries; and Mike Zeiders, Founder and Chairman, Zeider Enterprises.