GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A challenge for East Carolina University students prepares them to be business owners. It’s all with help from the Miller School of Entrepreneurship.

The 6th annual Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge on Thursday allowed students to kick off their own businesses before leaving college with the help from mentors and money. Some winners choose to stay local to benefit Eastern North Carolina’s economy.

Registration for the challenge begins in August for anyone wanting to participate around the first week of the semester.

The first round is judged by a popular vote by the student body and by experts. The second round consists of placements with mentors. The mentors pick out someone to work with until the finals leading up to the challenge on Thursday night.

“We started the competition back in October with 86 participants and we’re down to the final 6 (Thursday) and they’re competing for $150,000 in cash and prizes to help start their businesses,” said David Mayo, teaching instructor in ECU Miller School of Entrepreneurship and director of the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The Pirate Challenge consists of majors from all across ECU’s campus.

“We have three different majors, three different colleges being represented in the finals and it’s really a way to bring the student body together to showcase their entrepreneurial skills and talents,” said Mayo.

Pitches ranged from a digital platform for rural museums and libraries to an automatic disc golf carrier, foster care programs, a gym for sexual assault victims, a fitness app and fashion.

Third place went to Flourish, a gym for sexual assault survivors, winning more than $5,000. In second place was Foster Line to help parents with care for foster children, winning $10,000.
The first-place winner taking home $15,000 was “Invenire” a digital platform for rural museums and libraries bringing history to homeschoolers and public schools.

For more information on the challenge or how to take part, visit Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.