Two St. Thomas students are champions of the country's largest undergraduate business pitch competition.
Undergraduate students Meghan Sharkus and Jackie Page were named the winners of the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge on Saturday. They secured $75,000 in funding from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation to support their budding business, ExpressionMed, which creates patches for insulin pumps and Dexcom tapes for medical devices, with a focus on design, comfort, savings and peace of mind.
"It was exciting to see the judges believe in us and the company," Page said. "We are so thankful for Mr. Schulze’s generosity and providing us with this opportunity. It was amazing to see his support for all the competitors."
"The other competitors were so amazing; it has been an honor to have been selected as the winner," Sharkus said. "We didn’t see it coming, which made it an emotional win. It was inspiring to hear Dick Schulze speak about his entrepreneurial journey and learn about his outlook on business and education. We know this will serve us well as we continue to grow ExpressionMed."
Representing 110 schools, nearly 150 teams of the top entrepreneurial students in the country competed in this year's challenge. The 25 finalist teams descended on the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship Minneapolis April 12-14, where more than $250,000 was awarded to teams in categories ranging from social impact to global impact and an innovation challenge focused on reducing waste.
"It was amazing to see [Schulze's] support for all the competitors," Page said. "There were some amazing students competing this week and we’re glad this event brought all of us together."
Sharkus started ExpressionMed before she arrived at St. Thomas, and - along with Page - has worked to grow it with advisor Laura Dunham, chair of the entrepreneurial department within the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, and support from across the St. Thomas community.
"St. Thomas has really made a difference for us in terms of the connections we have with different students and faculty members," Page said. "The curriculum is so strong in providing us a foundation, and then encouraging us to apply what we’ve learned."
"The advisors and professors’ willingness to help, especially in our specific case [has been most beneficial]," Sharkus said. "My accounting professors are willing to look at our financials and give real feedback because they are experts. I wasn’t able to take a negotiations class, but the M.B.A. negotiations professor opened her door to me as a student and I learned so much from her."
"If you’re in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, there are a plethora of St. Thomas alumni here to help you," she added. "Even if you want to stay on campus, there are plenty of events and dinners where business professionals are invited to where you are, and they’re excited to talk to you and be there to help."
Click here for a full list of finalists and award recipients.