Coker College Students Earn $5000 in Prize Money at the 2019 P.E.E. D.E.E. Idea Challenge

    Coker College Students Earn $5000 in Prize Money at the 2019 P.E.E. D.E.E. Idea Challenge


    Last night, ten semi-finalist teams from Coker College, Florence-Darlington Technical College, and Francis Marion University competed for $7500 in prize money at the third annual P.E.E. D.E.E. Idea Challenge, with Coker College well-represented with seven teams winning $5000 in prize money.

    The P.E.E. D.E.E. Idea Challenge is open to all students attending Coker College, Florence-Darlington Technical College, and Francis Marion University, and gives them the opportunity to pitch a new business idea to a group of local business leaders and win cash prizes. 32 student teams submitted business ideas and ten semi-finalists competed on April 17, pitching their business idea in three minutes and then answering questions from a panel of five judges. All 10 semi-finalist teams automatically qualified for a $200 semifinalist cash prize.

    Coker students presented the following business ventures:

    • Barsoma, by Joao Victor Santos, is a mobile app that is tailored to bars and restaurants that allows the user to select the “group check” option, place orders through the app, and calculate the order with taxes and tip options. Users also have the ability to search for restaurants and their ratings and reviews. Joao Victor earned a second place finish and $1,250 cash prize.
    • Aging In Residence Center, by Rami Mullen and Deanna Faile, is a dorm-style building for women aging out of, or having recently left, the foster care system. The center will be a reliable, educational, and safe place to stay for this group of youth, and will provide life skill courses such as sewing, job interviews, and money management. Rami and Deanna earned a third place finish and $1,200 cash prize. They also received the Audience Choice Award for an additional $500.
    • Clean Earth Coating Solutions, by Riley Fisher, is dedicated to reducing the amount of plastic being thrown away each year by creating high quality coating materials from recycled plastics. CECS is dedicated to offering the highest quality coating material for industrial uses as well as new home construction. Riley earned a fourth place finish and $950 cash prize.
    • WeClean, by Jonathan Partlow and Eirik Noeklebye, is a business formed to tackle the issue of dirty college dorms and the spread of diseases throughout campuses. By employing fellow college students, it gives the customer a little more comfort knowing one of their peers is cleaning the room, and not a complete stranger. Jonathan and Eirik earned a fifth place finish and $500 cash prize.
    • First Pick Mentality, by Amelia Gajewski and Grace King, is a facility designed for student athletes to train alongside their teams while also having the opportunity to talk with sports psychologists. The goal of this facility is to help student athletes struggling across the United States to recognize that mental health is just as important as their physical health. Amelia and Grace earned a $200 cash prize.
    • FlashDL, by Fabrizio Tucci, is a mobile app and website that matches local stores to the users’ location and can deliver anything from fresh food, clothing, and electronics to personal care items in a short amount of time. Fabrizio earned a $200 cash prize.
    • SWAPPme, by Kevin Araya and Pafe Momoisea, is low cost trading platform that allows users to swap clothes with other users in the local area or across the U.S. The platform allows users to save money by trading away their excess clothing for other quality-checked items. Kevin and Pafe earned a $200 cash prize.

    “We continue to be impressed with our students’ creativity and innovation each and every year,” says Andy Burkemper, Director of the Center for Leadership & Entrepreneurship at Coker College. “One of the strengths of the idea challenge is the intentional collaboration among multiple colleges and universities in the area. Our primary goal is to enhance our students’ entrepreneurial mindsets and nurture their innovative business ideas right here in the Pee Dee. We are very grateful that Wells Fargo and The Clouse-Elrod Foundation, Inc. have served as the premiere sponsors for all three idea challenges to date.”

    Co-directors of the competition are Joe Aniello at Francis Marion University and Steven Weingartner at Florence-Darlington Technical College. 

    For more information about the P.E.E. D.E.E. Idea Challenge, please visit or contact Andy Burkemper at

    Press release written by Tommy Dong, '19, marketing and communications intern.