Berry College awarded $25,500 to top student entrepreneurs at the recent PITCH competition. 

Students pitched business ideas “Shark Tank” style to a panel of judges and a crowd of students, faculty and staff. The entrepreneurs represented a variety of majors who made it through the qualifying round. 

Cecilia Kolbash won the Henry and Clara Ford Fund for Innovation and Entrepreneurship grand prize of $10,000 for her idea Limitless by Grace. This venture provides altered clothing to people with physical impairments or disabilities. Kolbash majors in creative technology and communication with a minor in social entrepreneurship and is from Belmont, North Carolina. 

Handley Owens, a marketing major with a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation, won the Bettyann O’Neil Innovation Award of $5,000. Owens pitched an extension of her current dog-oriented treat and fashion business, Southern Belle Naturals , which would provide a monthly subscription box of items. She is from Jacksons Gap, Alabama. 

The team of Gary Jones, Kris Thomas, and Nick Willis won $5,000 and the Audience Choice award of $1,000 for their clothing business Melanin (Melaninz Closet LLC). Jones is a communication major from Rome, Thomas is a marketing and management double major from Cumming and Willis is a communication major from Duluth.

Taylor Carles, a biochemistry major from Rome, won $3,000 for a floatation device prototype called Airbands. 

This year’s judges included Berry alumni: 

  • Joe Bihlmier, director of E2E connections and media at the Coca-Cola Company 
  • Leroy Hite, founder/CEO of Atlanta-based Cutting-Edge Firewood 
  • Steve and Missy Bentz, joint owners of a furniture repair business and the Misty Pond Resort on Lake Lanier 

The Center for Student Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Development (C-SEED) sponsors the PITCH, which is one of the many ways Berry supports its student entrepreneurs so they can turn passions into real-world business profits. For more information visit