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UNG students help high schoolers learn how to pitch business ideas

December 4, 2019

Students from the University of North Georgia (UNG) are helping budding entrepreneurs in Forsyth County learn how to pitch their business ideas.

Five UNG students, three of whom are from Forsyth County, were eager to assist students at the seven Forsyth high schools ahead of the 6 p.m. Dec. 4 innovateUNG High School Pitch Challenge. The event will be held at the Mike and Lynn Cottrell Junior Achievement Discovery Center at North Georgia in Cumming, Georgia.

"The opportunity to pass my entrepreneurship and pitching knowledge from the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to the high school students in Forsyth County has been a tremendous experience," said Anna Meriwether, a UNG senior from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a degree in studio art. "The process of assisting these students in developing their business ideas and watching them grow in being equipped to present their business ideas has been inspiring and fulfilling work."

Rebecca Gaston, a senior from Douglasville, Georgia, pursuing a degree in management, is scheduled to graduate this month. She wishes she could have been part of such an effort even earlier. As someone going into human resources, she said the work with the students has helped her learn about training. She has enjoyed fine-tuning the Forsyth students' ideas.

"We ask questions they don't know to ask and provide guidance," Gaston said.

Dr. Ruben Boling, director of UNG's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, was impressed with the way UNG students helped their high school counterparts.

"They were able to pass along the skills they have learned at UNG to help the next generation of business owners be prepared to sell their ideas," Boling said. "We were impressed by the innovations the high school students had developed. It was great to experience the level of creativity and entrepreneurial thinking the teachers at all the high schools have instilled in their students."

One of the students who will compete is Denmark High school senior Hitesh Kamisetty. His idea, called "Bye Bye Wi-Fi," is a paint primer additive that helps block radio waves used to provide Wi-Fi from entering a baby nursery in someone's house.

"They have helped us learn what goes into a business plan," Kamisetty said. "They helped us see how our business needs to solve a problem to make life better."

David Ajluni, a senior from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a degree in management with a concentration in entrepreneurship, said UNG students encourage the Forsyth students to "be yourself; act comfortable; don't overthink it; and practice, practice, practice."

"It made me reflect back when I was in high school, and I wish I had something like this," Ajluni said. "It benefits them to get this pitching experience."

Holly Reeves, a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, pursuing a sociology degree, recalled one student who was unsure before but more confident after the help from UNG students.

"It's most rewarding to see those certain ones who light up when they learn to do it," Reeves said.

As a Cumming, Georgia, resident, Sabina Atamova, a senior pursuing an accounting degree, appreciated being able to give back to her community.

"I was really amazed by the things they could come up with," Atamova said. "I believe given the opportunity, these students could make a business out of their ideas and help the community."

Brett Godwin, who teaches business education at Denmark High, said his students benefited greatly from the partnership.

"It allows our students to see that there are chances to give back and help the next generation of students who follow in their shoes, and it also lets them bounce ideas off those who have similar interests to their own," Godwin said. "We are very thankful that Dr. Boling has allowed us access to his students as a resource for growth in the area of entrepreneurship."

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