Two recent graduates from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Business, Peter Sauska (String Advantage) and Josh Kapellusch (KAR, Inc.) competed in the Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference hosted by the University of Tampa on February 1-2, 2013. Of the 26 venture pitches made by participants from across the southeast, Sauska and Kapellusch were part of the seven who made it to the final round.

From left: Josh Kapellusch, Dr. Bev Brockman, Peter Sauska

Peter Sauska won second place, with a prize of $1,000 for his venture.

Sauska and Carlos Garcia lead String Advantage, which has produced a proto-type mechanism to increase the “sweet spot” on a tennis racquet.  The prototype is currently in the testing phase with several tennis pros.

“I felt like we were on “Shark Tank,” the TV show,” said Sauska, who received his UTC MBA in 2012. “The surroundings, environment, and people were so professional. After the experience in Chattanooga I knew that I was 100 per cent ready and confident to make the best impression in 90 seconds.  Whenever you talk in front of that many people the preparation is all that matters, and UTC and the community did an amazing job getting us prepared. It definitely made a difference.”

Kappellusch leads KAR Inc., a natural gas conversion business for company fleet vehicles.

“UTC, The Company Lab, and The Lamp Post Group provided advice and critiqued our past performance so we would be better prepared in Tampa. I was nervous, but I felt confident in my business model and overall idea compared to my competition.  My major advantage is my speaking ability under pressure as well as having a real value-creating product/service that can be widely implemented right away,” Kappellusch explained. “Although I didn’t win the competition, I did feel like a real winner because of all the preparation and support I received from UTC.”

“They both did extremely well, staying calm during their pitches, and showing grace under fire during the following Q&A session by the judges. Credit is also due to UTC and the Chattanooga community for providing sponsorship and helping Peter and Josh prepare for this competition,” said Dr. Bev Brockman, Entrepreneurship Department Head and Faculty Advisor for the UTC CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization), “I’d especially like to thank Dean Robert Dooley and the UTC faculty, Co.Lab, LampPost Group, the Hamilton County Business Development Center, and the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. This team effort helped UTC and Chattanooga stand out among other competitive entrepreneurship programs.”

Sauska and Kapellusch won first place and runner-up, respectively, in the two-part pitch competition hosted by the UTC CEO Club.

Round 1 took place on campus in November, 2012, and Round 2 in January, 2013, at the Hamilton County Business Development Center.  Judges from Co.Lab, the LampPost Group, as well as local entrepreneurs selected the two finalists.  Sauska and Kapellusch received coaching from these local entrepreneurial incubators in preparation for the Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference in Tampa.

The UTC Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (UTC CEO Club) has a mission to inform, support, and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunity through enterprise creation.

Learn more at www.utcceo.com

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