White FHU Logo
White FHU Logo

Jackson, Tennessee — (Feb. 14, 2024) — Freed-Hardeman University students produced impressive results in their debut appearance at the Hub City Innovation Cup, a regional business pitch competition, winning third place and a cash prize of $500.

The two-day event was held Feb. 9-10 at the Jackson Energy Authority Training Center in Jackson and challenged participating college students to create ideas using technology to improve the quality of life for disabled individuals. Students received the topic Friday afternoon and had just under 24 hours to prepare their five-minute pitches to judges.

Eleven FHU students competed against other students representing other area higher education institutions. Of the 18 participating teams, FHU sent three, with two advancing to the final round of six.
Marketing majors Sarah Carmack from Florence, Alabama; Zena Dorris from Nashville, Tennessee; Jadyn Hope from Hiram, Georgia; and Addison Adcock, a computer science/cybersecurity major from Mount Juliet, Tennessee, won third place. In addition to the third-place winners, Daniel Trimm, a business analytics major from Drummonds, Tennessee; Griffin Webster, a business analytics/Bible major from Birmingham, Alabama and Louviers Joseph, a computer science major from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, advanced to the final round.

Additional participating students were Caleb Bond, an accounting major from Harvest, Alabama; Elizabeth McKeeby, an accounting major from Franklin, Tennessee; Taylor Guess, an accounting/biblical texts major from Harvest, Alabama and Ruth Johnson, a financial planning/accounting major from Hartselle, Alabama.

From personal experiences to career aspirations, participating FHU students said the challenge offered them the opportunity to hone their skills. Carmack has a sister with special needs, and she drew upon her family’s experiences to develop plans for a social media app for community building for families of disabled people while Hope said their team was the only one to develop an actual prototype website, which was accessible via a QR code during their presentation. Adcock, the team’s computer science expert, helped turn that site around in less than 24 hours.

Carmack and Hope both hope to run small businesses one day, and they agreed applying critical thinking skills to work through every aspect of a business from financing to technology to implementation was the most helpful part of the competition.

“When I think about it, I get excited all over again,” Carmack said.

They also said their Freed-Hardeman academic courses, particularly business communication, as well as their experiences in Lads to Leaders, a nonprofit, church of Christ affiliated organization that trains youth in such areas as public speaking, song leading, teaching, and service projects, with the goal of equipping young people to serve, gave them the tools to be successful in the competition.

Amy Sewell, an instructor in the FHU College of Business, served as one of the team coaches. She said they are proud of the creativity and energy the students brought.

“With just a week’s notice, they formed teams and worked tirelessly to prepare,” Sewell said. “In this high-pressure competition, each team drew on its strengths to develop feasible solutions and persuasive presentations to seek investment in their solutions. Moreover, they represented FHU with honor and embodied what it means to be Christian professionals in a highly competitive environment.”

In addition to Amy Sewell, other coaches were her husband, Scott Sewell, a principal program manager with Microsoft, and FHU computer science faculty Lisa Raine and Dr. Kenan Casey.