Rise & Rotate takes home $25,000 with business pitch

Mallory Kaul

Entrepreneurs showed up and showed out Friday in Bayou Pointe for ULM’s second annual Pelican Cup competition, all competing for the coveted glass trophy and the $25,000 cash prize to help kick-start their business. Students from all over north Louisiana arrived to pitch their vision to the audience, including schools such as Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech University.

In what has now become the largest business academic competition in Louisiana, the Pelican Cup gives student inventors an opportunity to share their ideas and prototypes with an audience of like-minded investors. 

At this event, those finalists were able to conduct an elevator pitch, where the audience voted on the best 90-second pitch for a $2,000 cash prize. It ended with the main event, where first, second and third-place trophies were given to the best pitches and ideas of the competition. 

Taking first place and the massive cash prize of $25,000, Rise & Rotate rose to the top with their product to help disabled users get from their beds to their wheelchairs more effectively. 

The team hails from Northwestern State University. Team members Hayden Stanley, Alexander Brown and Matthew Gamble put in the long hours and hard work that it took to achieve this win. Their advisor, Elizabeth Prejean, expressed that she couldn’t be more proud. 

“I’m honored to have been a part of this team,” Prejean said. “They’re making a huge difference in the world.”

GloBowl, a team of ULM students, claimed the second-place prize of $15,000. Their plan described a greener, eco-friendly to-go bowl for transporting food while driving. The group added $2,000 to their earnings with the elevator pitch competition, which was selected by the audience. 

The third place prize of $10,000 went to ExploreMate—a travel app that will help tourists experience new areas like locals.

This luncheon, hosted by award-winning emcees Mike and Anne Preston, conducted an exciting series of inspiring speakers, fascinating pitches and delicious food provided by Erhart Catering. 

Eighteen teams entered the competition, and after rigorous judging, six teams went on to be finalists. While not all teams could be winners, many individuals walked away with internships and job offers from the experience. 

The finalist teams included Rise & Rotate, E-Com Expert, Immerse AR, Homeward Bound, ExploreMate and GloBowl—all student-driven inventions designed to fix a specific problem and better society.

Michelle McEacharn, the dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences, took a moment to recognize all the effort that went into putting the event together, as well as thanking the numerous sponsors who helped make the Pelican Cup a reality. 

“The potential, the power and the hope that is in this room is unbelievable,” McEacharn said afterward. “I cannot wait to see what will happen with these students.”

Dhu Thompson, a ULM Alumni and successful business owner of Delta Plastics, gave a rousing speech to the students hoping to follow in his footsteps. He shared the rags-to-riches story of his own entrepreneurial journey and the struggle it took to get there. He gave invaluable advice to the competitors—promising them that they have the chance to change the world if they work for it. Thompson was thrilled with the turnout of the event.

 “ULM is a community,” Thompson said. “How awesome is it that this many people came together to accomplish the same goal?”