Since her freshman year, Caty Greer has been pitching possible solutions to the world’s greatest social, economic and environmental issues from the second she stepped onto the College of Charleston campus.
And last month, Greer’s passion and persistence paid off when she won the College of Charleston Center for Entrepreneurship’s Annual Gender Equity Pitch Competition, which tasks participants with developing solutions to an issue of their choosing impacting women in the Lowcountry and delivering their ideas in the form of a one-minute pitch.
Greer claimed the top spot and $1,000 with her AI-based service Womentor, which aims to connect female mentors to female students looking for guidance as they plan their careers.
As an Honors College student, Greer has received a lot of support to embrace her entrepreneurial spirit, particularly as a member of the Honors Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community (E-LLC), which she participated in as a first year student. The Honors College, which provides its students with a rich, interdisciplinary education, offers a variety of courses that emphasize a multitude of subjects, which empowered Greer to further explore her interests in finding solutions to problems facing her generation.
Under the guidance of Honors College faculty member Lancie Affonso ’96, as well as other mentors, Greer has learned how to direct her passion for social justice into tangible change through pitching solutions to the world’s greatest issues.
“I have been fortunate enough to have several mentors during my time at the College of Charleston: Both the E-LLC and ImpactX (an entrepreneurship-based course) have provided me with personal and professional mentors,” says Greer. “My goal is for every student to have the same access to great mentors that I have had.”
As a participant in ImpactX her freshman year, Greer was exposed to the world of pitching very early on in her college career. ImpactX, a three-credit hour course offered by the School of Business, places students in a shark-tank style environment where students team up and work all semester to create a three-minute pitch revolving around one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“ImpactX taught me so many great skills when it comes to turning my ideas into realities,” says Greer, whose ImpactX team created the platform Tech Skills, which sought to support college students applying to jobs in information technology fields by measuring proficiency and aptitudes for learning programming languages to make the hiring process more efficient. “During ImpactX, I developed the confidence to pitch. I developed the confidence to create and validate ideas, and I learned how to use the resources available in the start-up environment.”
In fact, empowering students to develop their interests and build their confidence is central to the Center for Entrepreneurship.
“The mission of the Center for Entrepreneurship is to support College of Charleston students across all disciplines in the development of an entrepreneurial mindset through experiential activities,” says David Wyman, associate professor in entrepreneurship and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “Thus, we run a number of competitions for students to hone their problem-solving skills and pitch presentation skills. To be a successful entrepreneurial leader, one has to be No. 1: A creative problem-solver and No 2.: Be able to pitch and sell themselves and their concepts.”
Greer is not alone in her gratitude for the interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial experiences she’s had at CofC and the confidence they have given her. In fact, every one of the finalists in the Gender Equity Pitch Competition has either taken the ImpactX course or been a part of the E-LLC.
Greer hopes to continue working to develop the Womentor concept over time as well as nurturing other entrepreneurial ideas. Her advice to other CofC students looking to enter the world of entrepreneurship is to go for it.
“Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – no one is going to steal your idea. One of the first steps to getting any great idea off the ground is to bounce it off others in the entrepreneurship space,” she says. “Luckily for us CofC students, the College’s Center for Entrepreneurship has a multitude of opportunities for students to get valuable feedback from mentors and peers.”
Students interested in exploring opportunities in entrepreneurship at the College of Charleston should visit the Center for Entrepreneurship website.
Jack Bartlett is a junior Honors College student majoring in communication.