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Lillian Franchino holding a big check

In a stunning display of innovation and business acumen, two Marietta College students recently claimed the top honors at the “Ignite Appalachia” Pitch Competition. This achievement not only highlights the individual talents of these young entrepreneurs but also underscores Marietta College’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurial spirit and real-world business skills.

Lillian Franchino ’26 (Waterford, Ohio), an incoming transfer student with a keen eye for market opportunities, captured the first-place prize with her mobile ice cream business, “Swirled.” This innovative concept combines the nostalgic appeal of ice cream with the flexibility of a mobile service, catering to a wide range of events and occasions. Franchino’s victory not only secures her a $4,000 cash prize but also propels her to the final six-county competition, where she will have the chance to showcase her idea on an even larger stage.

Not to be outdone, graduate student Jared Farnsworth ’23, PA’26 (Newport, Ohio) claimed the second-place award with his “Appalachian Mobile Health” concept. Farnsworth’s vision of bringing healthcare directly to underserved communities demonstrates both his entrepreneurial spirit and his commitment to addressing critical societal needs. He received a $2,500 prize.

His success in this competition builds upon his previous triumph in Marietta College’s own PioBiz Competition, illustrating the College’s role in nurturing and developing student ideas from conception to market-ready proposals.

These achievements spotlight Marietta College’s robust support system for aspiring entrepreneurs. The College’s participation in programs like “Ignite Appalachia” provides students with invaluable opportunities to refine their business ideas, connect with mentors, and gain practical experience in pitching to investors and other entrepreneurs.

For prospective students with entrepreneurial aspirations, Marietta College stands out as an institution that not only encourages innovative thinking but also provides the resources and opportunities to turn ideas into reality.