Business Students Pitch Innovative Ideas in Annual Top Pup Competition

Jun 28, 2024 | Business, Engagement

Team Harmony Brew took home the first-place prize in the 2024 Top Pup, an entrepreneurial pitch competition designed exclusively for first-year students in Louisiana Tech University’s College of Business.

Providing early exposure to entrepreneurship and startup methodology, Top Pup teams develop and pitch their ideas, products, or businesses as part of the “Introduction to Business and Entrepreneurship” course. The winning team from each quarter then competes for the grand prize in the spring. This year, the College of Business awarded more than $11,000 in scholarship funds to members of each winning team thanks to the generosity of alumni Matt and Catherine Saurage and Just Business Giving Society donors.

Winners Conor Montalbano and Peyton Muse, both marketing majors, collaborated to create Harmony Brew, a protein coffee brand that projects a healthy lifestyle and positive energy even in busy environments.

“Harmony Brew started as a passion project,” said Montalbano. “I pitched it to one of my good friends, and it wound up being something more than an idea. I’ve always been a coffee drinker, but as my lifestyle became more and more active, I stopped drinking it because it wasn’t giving me the satisfaction it used. In that, I came up with protein coffee, a solution to all of your energy and hunger needs.”

The students developed a business plan, including a competitor analysis, financial projections, short- and long-term goals, and marketing strategies to pitch their innovative concept.

“Often we do class projects but they end within a couple weeks,” said Muse. “Researching and moving a project along for almost an entire academic year was a test of work balance for me. This product specifically encouraged us to place a lot of focus on research, reaching out across Ruston to ask for local opinions. However, with opinions come critiques, so learning how to always build and make criticism productive was a valuable piece of Top Pup. I am truly grateful for this experience.”

The second-place team featured computer information systems major Jessica Ramsay and marketing major Honesty Poland. Their concept, Bubbles for Bulldogs, is laundry service company designed exclusively for Tech students.  

“We came up with Bubbles for Bulldogs because many college students struggle to balance the challenges and responsibilities involved with moving out of home for the first time,” said Ramsay. “It was a way to help take an additional burden off students’ plates.”

Poland agreed, noting that their business idea was a way to step in and help their peers. 

“The experience of participating in Top Pup taught me how a business idea or thought can turn into much more,” said Poland. “In addition to improving my public speaking skills, I learned the value of teamwork and receiving and implementing feedback from others.”

Team UNI-RIDE, comprised of computer information systems major Elleigh Smith, finance major Shawn Staggs, and biomedical engineering major Seth Stanley, was awarded third place for their dorm-to-class ride sharing business. Marketing major Valerie Chatellier received a special judges award for Scoot Dawg, an electric scooter company for the Tech campus.

Each undergraduate student in the College of Business is required to take “Introduction to Business and Entrepreneurship,” which serves as the foundation for all eight business majors. Through the course, students are introduced to entrepreneurship, one of the College’s core themes alongside innovation and technology.

“As someone curious about being an entrepreneur, the inner workings of business fascinate me,” said Montalbano. “This experience showed me how intricate every piece of a business is, from the financials to the marketing. I learned a lot from the Top Pup experience, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in it.”