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Alexis Sommers headshot

Alexis Sommers ’25 (Nelsonville, Ohio) has been here before. The Entrepreneurship student was part of a team that won Round 1 of the PioBiz competition in 2022.

Last week, she again took the top spot in Round 1 with her idea, Rallia Rentals — an event planner for traveling groups.

“I am so honored to receive first place at the first round (problem/solution) of PioBiz,” Sommers said. “I competed with a Real Estate idea I have been researching and developing in one of my entrepreneurship classes. I would love to bring my idea to life after graduation, but I wanted to test the idea at PioBiz. At the competition, I received excellent feedback and support that will help as I continue to grow this idea.”

Sommers’ idea topped the other 14 for-profit and non-profit business ideas presented at The Gathering Place. The top 10 ideas received a cash prize, starting with Sommers receiving $190.

Olivia Martin ’23 (Vincent, Ohio) finished second and earned $180 with Marietta: Now and Past, a product line that fulfills the need for accessible historical images showcasing Marietta. Martin is majoring in Graphic Design.

Jared Farnsworth ’23 (Newport, Ohio) picked up $170 and a third-place finish with Appalachian Mobile Health, which makes personalized health care and health education accessible to individuals facing barriers to traditional healthcare in southeast Ohio. Farnsworth is majoring in Health Science.

Round 1 of the PioBiz Competition consisted of identifying a problem that is worth solving and describing a new product or service that solves the problem. The proposed solution must potentially lead to establishing a for-profit or non-profit organization. 

Finishing in fourth place and receiving $160 was Jayden Austermiller ’27 (Peyton, Colorado) with Tail Wagging Doggie Treats. Austermiller is majoring in Biology. Conner Wright ’24 (Glouster, Ohio) picked up $150 and a fifth-place finish with College Gateway, a recruiting service for high school student-athletes who lack the resources to promote themselves to colleges and college coaches. Austermiller is majoring in Biology.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

  • Gabriel Torres ’25 (El Paso, Texas), WOC (a product that allows Christians to connect and comfort each other), $140, Entrepreneurship major.
  • Jacob Stern ’25 (Wheeling, West Virginia), Para Bellum (socks with injury prevention technology inside), $130, Entrepreneurship/Management major.
  • Kelsey Bowman ’26 (Warsaw, Ohio), Align Back (therapeutic backpack straps), $120, Marketing major.
  • Tanner Hurst ’24 (Marietta, Ohio) and Jarrett Parks ’26 (Marietta, Ohio), Expansive Soil Test Kit (a product that gives simple instructions and tools to test the possible expansive properties of soil), $110. Hurst is majoring in Geology, and Parks is majoring in Physics.
  • Loreena Williams ’27 (Mount Perry, Ohio) and Gavin Ray ’27 (Thornville, Ohio), EcoCrumb Bakery (eco-friendly bakery), $100. Both students are majoring in Entrepreneurship.

The students presented their ideas in a poster format. The key components of the posters were:

  • Problem: A clear description of the problem
  • Customer Segment:  Who has this problem? Define the characteristics of your typical customer. 
  • Why is the problem worth solving?
  • Existing Alternatives:  How do your target customers currently solve the problem? Describe the nature of the competing products or services.  
  • Solution: Clearly describe your product or service and how it solves the problem.
  • Unique Value Proposition: What is the advantage of your product or service over the alternatives? Why should people buy your product?

The competition judges were Faith Knutsen, Director of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership & Public Service; Dr. James Morell, Assistant Professor of Management, Marietta College; Suzanne Schultz, Owner at Canvas Fine Arts; and Mike Williams, President/Owner at iTech/Advance Alarm Tech.