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NACCE Honors Student Entrepreneurs at 13th Annual Conference

Thursday, October 15, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Springfield, MA, October 15, 2015 --( The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), the nation’s leading organization focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges, has honored five outstanding student entrepreneurs at its 13th Annual Conference, October 11-14 in Houston. The student awards, made possible by donations from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) and the C. Lowell Harriss Scholarship Fund, are given to enrolled students who have demonstrated innovative and creative accomplishments in businesses they are operating while attending college.

1st Place - $2,500 cash prize plus a $1,500 travel stipend to attend NACCE2015: Alfred Munoz & Giuliano Melluso of MYCO Tea, Students at Indian River State College (IRSC), Fort Pierce, Florida.

Alfred Munoz & Giuliano Melluso are the founders of MYCO Tea, the first immune stimulant that is created in probiotic form and delivers multiple health benefits. A love of mushrooms and a lifelong involvement in the food and beverage industry brought the two partners together. After producing gourmet mushrooms for the regional Treasure Coast restaurant industry, Munoz and Melluso discussed how to bring nourishing foods to a larger market. For three years the two researched and developed the concept and applied for and were awarded a patent on the production method of the beverage. MYCO Tea is now ready for launch and distribution.

The founders credit their IRSC education in science, specifically molecular biology, aquaculture and business, for their ability to develop, create and expand their product and company. IRSC’s science program offered them the scientific building blocks enabling them to create the product. Their business and entrepreneurship courses provided them with the business skill set to form the business, enabling them to turn their idea into a product. The business incubation program conducted focus groups to further product development and has provided facilities to conduct the science and produce the product. IRSC’s incubation program has also facilitated collaboration with graphic design students who assisted MYCO Power Tea with branding and logo work. The IRSC Incubation program has also connected them to professionals who researched the legalities in referring to their beverage. The founders recognize it was a combination of traditional education and business incubation that allowed them to bring their concept to the marketplace.

2nd Place - $1,500 cash prize: Hussain Ali,

Hussain Ali is the founder of, an all-in-one digital menu solution. He started the company after having worked in a broad-based digital signage company to get practical experience and eventually go out on his own. Ali had begun to develop multiple user-friendly solutions for digital menu use and supporting services. A class at Houston Community College and the HCC Newspring Business Plan Competition (BPC) this past spring helped Ali develop a focused launch-and-growth plan to start a company solely devoted to serving this evolving and specialized space in the market. The competition provided Ali and his new partner, Irtiz Aarin, an opportunity to work together and receive mentoring and training.

Ali and Aarin placed second in the college’s Newspring Business Pitch Competition. They used the prize money to open a new office and showroom in Katy, Texas, and added another full-time employee. Based upon current activity and plans, Ali conservatively estimates $500,000 in revenues in Year 1 for HD2Menus.

Three 3rd place winners each received $750:

Bruce McMordie, Texas Swim Academy
Bruce McMordie is the founder/co-founder of Texas Swim Academy, a family-owned swim school for infants, children and adults. Seeing an unmet need in the community for a swim skills and survival skills while looking for swim instruction for their own family, the McMordies started a business by getting certified and giving classes in their backyard pool. At that time, they attended a one-day Starting and Running Your Own Business Seminar offered by HCC partner, SCORE. In 2012, they completed construction on their 8,000-square-foot Texas Swim Academy facilities and they graduated from the HCC Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program with a growth plan in hand.

By 2015 they achieved their projected growth and were ready for further growth. They were attracted to the HCC Newspring Business Plan Competition because it offered the opportunity to move four key people through three months of competition mentoring and training. The McMordies created a plan to expand further by building a competitive swim team facility adding competitive swim team training and activities. Furthermore, they allowed the competition to be a platform for moving their son William into a stronger lead role in the business. William also took the lead in giving the verbal presentation in the competition finals. Over the summer, the McMordies have been actively pursuing a site for their new location.

Landi Spearman, Destination 4 Relocation
Landi Spearman is the founder of a real estate service that not only helps home buyers buy a house, but also tap into quality of life resources and amenities that help them to embrace Houston and reduce the stress of their move. Landi learned about the HCC Newspring Business Plan Competition at an HCC seminar. She took the Small Business Management class to draft her plan and applied for the competition as a three-person team.

Through the competition, Landi created a business plan. Since the competition, she has rolled out an expanded line of services through several key partners including Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Gite Art Gallery, Cantoni Furnishings, Whole Foods and the Houstonian Spa and Athletic Club. Average client commissions have increased from $5,000 to between $8,000 to $13,000; and she’s also added two new contract staff. Now she expanded her operations to do business in Washington D.C., New York, New Jersey, Pittsburg, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore and Mexico.

Spearman is now a strong advocate of HCC entrepreneurship, referring students, applicants and potential prize sponsors. Thanks to a connection she made at the 2015 HCC Newspring Business Plan Competition, she is now also pursuing prize money in the Liftoff Houston Competition; a collaborative partner of the HCC Center for Entrepreneurship.

Saul Allen Barrera, Grass on the Go
Saul Allen Barrera is the founder of Grass on the Go, an online frozen wheat grass company. Barrera launched the company after seeking to improve his own health through nutrition and the benefits of wheatgrass shots. The product he found in the marketplace was of poor quality, so he created a process for growing and flash freezing wheatgrass shots. Given the high quality of his product, he did well via word-of-mouth referrals and selling at farmers markets. After some favorable product publicity and an appearance on a local television show, demand began to outpace supply.

The market proved there was a demand, but he had to learn how to run his dream as a business. A graduate of HCC, he returned to the HCC Center for Entrepreneurship to attend the annual Small Business Growth Summit. Next, he signed up for the class and applied for the business plan competition. His BPC mentors helped him focus on the numbers and plan ahead. The competition training sessions also led him to improving his process for growing and producing his product. Since the competition, he has cut labor expenses dramatically.

About AIER & the C. Lowell Harriss Scholarship Fund
The American Institute for Economic Research is an independent nonprofit organization established in 1933 to help ordinary Americans deepen their economic and financial knowledge and thereby enhance their well-being and that of the nation. The American Institute for Economic Research provides independent research and critical analysis of economic and financial issues. AIER researchers provide ordinary people with expert advice and insight they can use to improve their lives and communities. AIER established a scholarship Fund in memory of C. Lowell Harriss, an economist whose groundbreaking theories on land tax reform led to a widening of public spaces and improved quality of life in the U.S. and beyond. He taught economics at Columbia University for 43 years, from 1938 to 1981. For more information on AIER, visit www.

See the press release here

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