$10,000 Disbursed to FSC Student Entrepreneurs
Apr 18, 2023
That’s how much in prize money was on the line at the 2023 Truist Business Plan Competition that took place on April 14 at Florida Southern College. In all, eight different FSC student entrepreneurs competed for the investment, through the Barney Barnett School of Business and Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.
The mission of the Center for Free Enterprise & Entrepreneurship is to instill an entrepreneurial mindset and reinforce free enterprise principles. The CFEE aims to generate new ideas and shape them into viable businesses through academic programming, interdisciplinary experiential learning, and student-driven engagement.
“Truist is very committed to bettering our communities,” said Jason Williams, VP of Commercial Banking in Polk County for Truist. “This is just one way we can give back. We want to support [Florida Southern College] in any way that we can.”
Taking the top prize of $5,000 was Happyson Kaunda ’24 with his company Tafika Tickets. Senior Rafael Jorge ’23 claimed second place and $3,000, with his company Immigrafy, while sophomore Nathan Calvary ’25 took home $2,000 for third place with Incog-Needle.
For Kaunda, this is the second time he has won such a pitch competition, and has raised $35,000 in total doing so.
“I am pretty excited, but I always feel a sense of humility whenever I am in these situations,” said Kaunda, a McClurg Scholarship recipient at FSC.
His app, Tafika Tickets, which is already active, aims to solve an issue in his home country of Zambia. Working closely with the government of the south-central African nation, the aim is to streamline the bus ticketing system in and around the nation’s capital, Lusaka.
According to Kaunda, nearly 12,000 customers enter and leave Lusaka’s bus terminal every day. Most of those using the bus are also riding it more than once a day as it is one of the most common means of travel in the African nation.
Over a year that total comes to 4,380,000 potential users that have to navigate Zambia’s paper ticketing system for bus travel.
Kaunda and his business partners saw that an easier method was needed to keep track of ticketing, and together they helped launch Tafika Tickets, an online-based bus ticket purchasing app that as of January of 2023 has been downloaded more than 5,000 times.
“We’re going to build out our content creation for online ads, with the focus on Google and Meta ads,” Kaunda explained, about how the prize money would be used. “We are working with a local marketing agency, strategizing a plan, a rollout campaign, for how we are going to get the maximum conversion from our online ads to Tafika downloads which translates into sales.
“Being in the position where we can provide the solution that can potentially change the industry and add more convenience is very humbling.”
For Jorge, a Business Administration major, this is his second different idea he is bringing to fruition. The native Brazilian already owns and operates Mastro, a digital marketing company that provides web design, social media strategies, and helps build brand awareness. His new venture, Immigrafy, is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) application that automates the visa application process for U.S. Immigrants.
Calvary is a Marketing, Finance, and Business Administration major from Lakeland, who is developing Incog-Needle. The product is a needle cover designed to help address anxiety felt by children while they get shots at the doctor’s office.
“As we compare these presentations,” said Rob McCollum, Market President for Greater Polk County for Truist, “kudos to the [students] for both the technology piece, the understanding of the market, having the answers to some pretty tough questions from the judges, I was very impressed.”