Seniors claim first-place prize in Regions New Venture Challenge

Matt Thornton and Amy Gonzalez present WE:Band in the Regions Bank New Venture Challenge.

Drew Laing

Regions Bank recently hosted its annual New Venture Challenge in cooperation with Samford’s Brock School of Business.

Senior economics major Amy Gonzalez and senior entrepreneurship major Matt Thornton came away the big winners in the competition after pitching their business for WE:Band.

“In the beginning, Matt and I sold regular silicone wristbands, similar to the live strong bands that you see on people’s wrist, but our business evolved,” Gonzalez said.

“The product that we want to sell targets the healthcare industry where we want to help hospitals reduce costs and re-admissions to the hospitals. We will do this by incorporating technology into our silicone wristbands,” Gonzalez added.

Their product takes silicone wristbands and incorporates a Quick Response Code, which functions as a barcode that can be scanned by smart phones. The technology will allow these bands to store information such as health data for a hospital patient or a gym member’s training.

See our slideshow with images courtesy of the Brock School of Business.

The New Venture Challenge provides two divisions for the competition. One of the divisions allows freshman business students in the Freshman Entrepreneurship Experience (BUSA 100) to write their own preliminary business plan.

Gonzalez and Thornton competed in the open division, which is open to any undergrad students or MBA students.

At the company’s creation, the two were only supplied with $200. After being announced the winner of their division, Gonzalez said it felt very “surreal.”

“It wasn’t until we got in the car that it hit us,” Gonzalez said. “There were other good ideas and we were very blessed to have been chosen for first place.”

The pair received $7,500 for winning their division. As for their current progress, Gonzalez stressed that WE: Band will continue to evolve as their business plan comes into fruition.

“We have not stopped,” Gonzalez said. “We are in the process of becoming a LLC (Limited Liability Company) and trying to develop our product to be able to present to hospitals and our potential clients.”

The winning business plan for the freshman division was Shooting Shells Sports Clay, a skeet shooting range in Bessemer, Ala, created by Zach Mardis. Shooting Shells Sports Clay received $2,500 for finishing in first place in their respective division.

This year’s New Venture Challenge marked the competition’s fourth year of existence. Regions Bank gives out a total $20,000 to both finalists and winners throughout the competition.

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