Southern Miss Business Winter Newsletter

The Golden Idea Pitch Competition provides a platform for budding entrepreneurs to pitch their products/services to a panel of judges, consisting of notable USM alumni, business counselors, serial entrepreneurs, and equity investors. Open to students of all majors, the Golden Idea Competition is hosted each November during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

VisiShield Education & Professional Solutions captured the top prize in the Golden Idea Pitch Competition hosted by Southern Miss Business in November. The first-place concept was developed and presented by Samuel Sumrall, a marketing major from Laurel, Miss. VisiShield's proposition included the manufacturing and distribution of polycarbonate desk shields to make educational institutions of all grade levels a safer place to learn. The shields were also pitched as an option for professional office settings. In addition to bragging rights, the first-place winner received a $1,000 cash prize.

The Farmer's Buggy, pitched by Kellie Jackson, took second place and a $500 cash prize. She is a senior public health policy and administration major minoring in business and Spanish. Jackson’s app-based concept directly addressed current disconnects between farmers and local markets, specifically focusing on making local produce more accessible.

Third place, and a $250 cash prize, was awarded to BBG Insurance, pitched by junior finance major Blake Gwin. BBG Insurance focused on a growing opportunity in cyber security insurance and proposed the creation of an insurance sales agency to partner and bundle consulting services with cyber security consultants.

The competition consisted of 4 rounds. Initially, students submitted business proposals for their services or products. In these proposals, students identified the problem they were trying to solve along with their proposed solution, target market, competition, and potential revenue. The top 5 teams who competed in the Golden Idea Pitch Competition Finals each had two minutes to pitch their idea and up to ten minutes for questions.

Three Minute Thesis, Southern Miss Business Student Takes First Place

Lacey Wallace (MBA) was selected as the grand champion of the 2020 Three-Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition, hosted annually by the USM Graduate School. Wallace earned $1,250 in cash prizes and will go on to compete at the 2021 Virtual 3MT® Conference of Southern Graduate Schools annual meeting February 24-26.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition is an annual communication skills development event and among the most important professional skills-development activities the USM Graduate School hosts. The competition requires students to present the significance of their research in a manner that can be understood by a general audience in less than three minutes, compelling them to deeply consider the value and broader impacts of their work. In keeping with the university’s commitment to health safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s 3MT competition required students submit their presentations as pre-recorded videos, which were viewed live by a panel of judges. View Wallace's video submission above!

Southern Miss Business students collaborate with Mississippi Braves

A collaboration between the sport management program and the Mississippi Braves enabled students in a sport marketing graduate course to assist the minor league baseball organization in future sports marketing planning.

Dr. Chris Croft, assistant professor of sport management, coordinated the event during the recent fall semester with Mississippi Braves executives Zach Evans and Jeff Olson. Evans serves as Director of Stadium Operations, while Olson is the Braves’ Ticket Manager and a USM sport management alumnus.

“We strive to collaborate with sport organizations and incorporate experiential learning opportunities for our students,” said Croft. “Due to last summer’s minor league baseball season shutdown and loss of financial revenue, I felt it would be beneficial to attempt to assist one of the regional teams. We are very thankful for Zach and Jeff’s opportunity and guidance on the project. It was an extremely valuable learning experience for our students to be able to apply sport marketing content from the class and create both in-season and out-of-season events to generate revenue for the M-Braves.”

Evans and Olson conducted a training session for the online course that included history of the organization, recapped 2020 summer challenges and financial impact, and the need for increased opportunities to attract fans to Trustmark Park stadium in the near future.

“This is the second time we’ve worked with the sports management department at Southern Miss and it’s a blessing for us every year,” said Evans. “We have used several ideas from the projects in the past and had success using them at our ballpark and during our games. I hope the project helps each student get as creative as possible. In the world we live in, no idea can be ruled out on what might be successful. Creativity is what fuels minor league baseball.”

The students worked in a group project setting to create both in-season and out-of-season events to generate M-Braves awareness and publicity, attract fans to Trustmark Park, and increase additional non-baseball financial revenue for the organization. The students were tasked with creating mini-marketing plans for all events on methods of reaching target market including applicable social media ideas and/or hashtags through their current social media platforms.

Additionally, COVID-19 protocols and plans related to the specific events were provided due to the unknown ending of the pandemic. “Hopefully minor league baseball will be back to normal next summer, but regardless, these organizations need new ideas to continue to use their facility and resources to attract fans and generate money,” said Croft.

Olson noted that the relationships between USM sport management graduates and the Mississippi Braves is a vital one that helps cultivate ideas and education in the ever-changing market that is the sports business. Olson credits his time at USM for establishing the blueprint for his career.

EXCEL CERTIPORT CERTIFICATION: Southern Miss Business Students take Top 3 spots in Mississippi

Southern Miss Business students swept the top three spots in both certifications for Excel 2016 and Excel 2019/365 this year. Both students ranked first will be invited to participate in the US championships, scheduled for June 2021 in Orlando, Florida. All Southern Miss business undergraduate students are required to take the Excel certification as part of BA 250 but there is no score requirement.

  • Tamica Davis (General Business) ranked first in Excel 2016
  • River Howell (Accounting) ranked second in Excel 2016
  • Asa Haynes (General Business) ranked third in Excel 2016
  • Jake Roseberry (MPA) ranked first in Excel 2019/365
  • Kenneth Wilson (MPA) ranked second in Excel 2019/365
  • Adrienne Slater (MPA) ranked third in Excel 2019/365

All MPA students are required to complete the Microsoft Excel 2019 certification at both the Associate and Expert levels while enrolled in ACC 615 (Audit Analytics and IT Auditing). Additionally, the 23 students enrolled in the graduate course this semester completed the Tableau Author Digital Badge and the Tableau Analyst Digital Badge, issued by Tableau Software as well as the AICPA Data Analysis Fundamentals Certificate, awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. 15 MPA students also chose to complete an additional, optional digital badge, the AICPA Data Analysis Essentials Certificate.

Experience Business Virtually Recap

If you didn't see our Experience Business Virtually video series last semester, don't miss out! Catch up and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss a Southern Miss Business video.

Rodney Richardson

2020 Entrepreneur of the Year

Southern Miss Business was delighted to honor Rodney Richardson, founder of Hattiesburg-based agency, RARE Design, as the 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year. Richardson was recognized during the 2020 Golden Idea Pitch Competition and through a video shared to the Southern Miss Business YouTube channel. Check out the video below as it includes several friends, former colleagues, and clients congratulating him on the well-deserved honor!

2020 Research Impact Report

Our faculty have an impressive commitment to conducting impactful research that advances both theory and practice in their respective disciplines. During the most recent academic year, Southern Miss Business faculty produced 350 scholarly contributions including 51 peer-reviewed journal publications in 38 different journals with 24% being published in premier and highly respected journals. Additionally, they received over $2 million in external grant funding over the same period of time. These are just a few of the highlights that illustrate the quantity, quality, and importance of the research being conducted within the College of Business and Economic Development at Southern Miss. Please take a few minutes to view our 2019 - 2020 Research Impact Report.

Congratulations to our Fall 2020 award recipients!

Alumni news

Check out this FIFA Journal article, entitled Stadiums and AI in the aftermath of Covid, discussing the revolutionary role artificial intelligence could play in getting spectators back into stadiums. The story features Daniel Eborall, a Southern Miss alumnus who was one of the first students to earn as MBA with an emphasis in Sport Event Security Management from Southern Miss in 2017.

Golden News

We could all use some positive, uplifting good news these days! That's why we would like to share some great news about one of our very own graduate students, Brett Clark. After battling cancer, Brett proudly rang the "Survivor's Bell" this November! The bell has a plaque that states, "Ring this bell three times well to celebrate this day. This course is run, my treatment done and I am on my way." Brett is pursuing his Master of Science in Sport Management and will graduate in December 2021. We are all sending our best wishes to Brett in his continued healing!

Faculty featured in wall street journal

Dr. Marco Wolf, associate professor of marketing, was recently interviewed for an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Are Extreme DIY Home Improvement Projects Worth the Risk?" Dr. Wolf was interviewed due to his expertise, interest, and research history into the motivations of DIYers.