Paul Walters ’13 Wins Second Annual Seed Project
On Thursday, April 19, 2012, Covenant College hosted the second annual Seed Project Pitch Event. Finalists Enoch Elwell '10 and Paul Walters '13 presented their respective business proposals to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs. After the presentations, questions and a period of deliberation, the seed capital panel awarded the $10,000 prize to Paul and Redwood Sound, his live sound and concert production company.
Managed by the Center for Calling & Career, the Seed Project is an annual entrepreneurship initiative, encouraging students to develop ideas amongst their peers and with the guidance and mentorship of professors, church members and people of business. Paul, this year’s winner, had not thought much of participating until he met with Anthony Tucker ’99, director of the Center for Calling & Career.
“I was able to speak with him late last semester and he gave me an idea of things to work on and how to write a business plan,” says Paul. “He also was the first business person I'd spoken to about the idea, and he thought it was feasible.”
In addition to the prize money itself, Paul highly values the lessons he learned throughout the process. “The work I did to prepare pro forma for the business plan helped me to better understand the financial elements of my business.”
Likewise, Enoch, who presented his pitch for an online men’s formalwear rental company, values the feedback and mentorship made possible by the Seed Project. “I intend to continue to pursue this idea, though my approach may change,” he says. “Based on feedback from the judges and others, we may focus on the vest and start with a Kickstarter for the first round.”
With the second Seed Project completed, Anthony Tucker looks forward to beginning work on the third. “Having an entrepreneurship initiative is still extremely new at Covenant,” he says. “I am excited with the level of commitment we saw from students, faculty, staff, alumni and other friends of the College. The finalists worked hard to prepare compelling business plans and presentations, and it showed. Both the business plan review committee and seed capital panel consisted of folks that volunteered their time and expertise to this effort. We couldn’t have done this without them.”
The seed capital panel, which judged the final pitches and awarded the prize, included Bob Bosworth, Chris Dodson, Andrew Kean, Miller Welborn, and Lance Wescher. The business plan review committee included Jen Allen, Beth Bailey '11, Jonathan Bragdon '92, and Trip Farmer '96.
Among those volunteers was Andrew Kean, president and COO of See Rock City Inc. “I am passionate about the Chattanooga area’s start-up ecosystem,” said Kean, when asked why he agreed to participate. “I think the Seed Project is and can be a vital component of growing the environment in our area and making it more attractive for young professionals to consider as a vibrant place to call home. Getting to learn about the candidates, what they see as opportunity, and how they want to seize that opportunity pushes me to view the world from new perspectives. I learned a lot as a panelist.”
Paul believes that personal interest is vital to a successful business plan. “Your idea should be something that you love to do, because you'll be spending a lot of time thinking about it and working on it,” says Paul, thinking of next year’s Seed Project participants. “A good indicator of this is whether you lose sleep over it. Also, if you have put it into practice already and it's working, there's a good chance you have a good idea on your hands. I think that's the common thread between this year and last year's winners. There may be bugs to work out (and I still have things to learn), but if the essentials are in place and running smoothly, investors (and judges) will have a much higher degree of confidence in your idea than they would if it's just a piece of paper.”