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Pitch competition helps students bring business ideas to reality

Alen Muharemi has earned a $2,000 grant for his pitch in an entrepreneurial competition.
Alen Muharemi, who offered a pitch in the NACCE competition to launch a mural company, earned a $2,000 grant to help launch his idea.

Two Pellissippi State Community College students who participated in the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship  pitch competition last week now  have the opportunity to turn their capstone projects into reality.  

Alen Muharemi and Simone Durrance, whose pitches demonstrated their interests in starting a mural company and a food truck business, earned $2,000 prizes from NACCE to help them launch their ideas. Maria Cornejo, who placed third with her idea of creating a barber school, was awarded a $1,000 grant. 

The grant funding from NACCE is offered to community colleges to help expand access to entrepreneurial education and to enable students to take their businesses from an idea to  a thriving enterprise.  

This is the second year for the entrepreneurship concentration within Pellissippi State’s business program. The three winners began as part of a pool of 17 competitors who will graduate next month. They first created video pitches that business faculty narrowed down to the top three.  

Entrepreneurship faculty member Samira Abdalla said the pitch competition is a “game changer” for students that “could mean the difference between giving up on a dream and forging ahead with confidence,” she said.  

For the students, it’s not a competition about winning.  

“It’s about learning, growing, gaining valuable experience and walking away with a deeper understanding of what it takes to succeed in the world of entrepreneurship,” she said.  

The panel of judges from outside of Pellissippi State included Gus Zacharias, Jade Johnston, Candace Viox, Jonathan Hayes, Heetesh Patel and Denny Johnson. 

For more information about the business entrepreneurship program, visit the 2024-2025 Pellissippi State College Catalog. For more information about NACCE’s pitch competition and awards, visit