A Berry College student entrepreneur recently won $11,000 to grow his cattle business in a pitch competition. Senior management major Ben Umberger of Dawsonville, Ga., started Umberger Farms Cattle Company when he was 11 years old, feeding calves by the bottle before and after school. His business, now located in Trion, Ga., is focused on raising Hereford and Angus beef cattle by cross producing them to make a more efficient and dynamic beef calf that excels in the current beef market.

Umberger took first place and the grand prize of $10,000 from the Henry & Clara Ford Fund for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the 2019 Pitch Competition on Feb. 8. He also won an additional $1,000 for audience-choice Berry Best Idea, which was voted on live at the event. “During the competition I felt a little out of place as I raise cattle for a living and that is something that you don’t hear of everyday. However, I am really encouraged that the judges saw potential in my business,” Umberger said. “The entrepreneurship program here at Berry has helped me a lot along the way in developing more skills and gaining more knowledge on what it takes to run a successful business – which is what I aim to do with Umberger Farms.” 

The Berry College Entrepreneurship Program sponsored the 2019 Pitch Competition, which is under the leadership of Professor of Management Paula Englis. Four other students, Josie Hadaway of Salem, Ala., Jorie Hodapp of Villa Rica, Ga., Harmony Petty of Calhoun, Ga. and Anthea Phitides of Madison, Ga. also took home cash to fund their businesses. Hadaway, a double major in management and marketing, took second place and the $7,500 Chairman’s Prize for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. She runs a custom hand-lettering gift and home décor shop, Written By J, where she sells paintings, mugs, hats and wood signs. The money will allow her to expand into a digitized hand letter work beyond the hand painted items she sells now. In third place, finance major Hodapp won $5,000 from the Bettyann O’Neill Innovation Fund for her small baking business, Jorie Cakes. Jorie Cakes specializes in cake and cupcakes from all occasions including local community fairs, Berry events, weddings and more. The money will allow her to grow her business by officially registering Jorie Cakes in the state of Georgia, replacing her eight-year-old Kitchenaid mixer, and trying new recipes to add to the menu. 

Petty, an early childhood education major, took fourth place and won $2,500 from the Entrepreneurial Seed Fund for her business, Harmony’s Crafty Creations. Petty hand makes a variety of products from t-shirts to diaper towers. Her hope is to take her business to the next level and use the money she was awarded to hire a Berry student worker to help increase productivity of her business.  Phitides, a double major in management and marketing, won $1,000 from the Entrepreneurial Seed Fund to expand a new line of handmade soaps called Well Made by Marula. She plans to employ underprivileged young women (teenagers) with unexpected pregnancies and provide them prenatal vitamins, career advising and a support system for these women. For more information about the Berry College Entrepreneurship Program, visit: http://www.berryentrepreneurs.com/AbouttheProgram-4.