Winner of the University's 2019 Sharkfest Student Business Pitch Competition

Cyndi Baldwin, who is from Efland and a student at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, won the University's 2019 Sharkfest Student Business Pitch Competition and $3,000. Left to right: Benjamin Robinson, Ph.D.; Cydni Baldwin of Pro Fit Foods; James Woods, Ph.D.

Cyndi Baldwin, a student at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte who is from Efland, won the University's 2019 Sharkfest Student Business Pitch Competition.

She was awarded two separate honors during the Jan. 31 event that totalled $3,000. These funds will allow Baldwin to grow the business concept she presented.

The College of Business at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte designated this academic year as the “Year of the Women Business Executives,” according to a release from the school.

The competition showcased JWU’s best student-led business concepts, resulting in four head-to-head battles.

The winners from each battle received $2,000 each in support of their business venture. In addition, one contestant received the $1,000 People’ Choice Award.

“The strength of the woman entrepreneur was on full display,” the release noted.

Baldwin pitched “Pro Fit Foods” a subscription-based meal prep company geared towards professional athletes on the go.

The meals are shipped weekly to their door, fresh never frozen. Pro Fit Foods customizes all meal plans based on the athlete’s personal preferences and dietician recommendations. “Participating in Sharkfest was a great experience because it gave me the opportunity to speak publicly about my business and share my passion with the crowd,” Baldwin said. “Gary Vaynerchuk, author and entrepreneur, says, ‘No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story.’ I did just that the day of the competition.”

The host of the event and assistant professor in the Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship program, James Woods, Ph.D., stated “I am proud of the accomplishments of our entrepreneurial contestants. The competition was extremely fierce this year and the quality of the business ventures was beyond our expectations. The event was an inspiration and an example to their peers.”

In addition to winning the Sharkfest competition, the competitors will continue to receive support as they launch their ventures.

Benjamin Robinson, Ph.D., college chair, says, “The Sharkfest competition is the ultimate demonstration of applied business education. Our students use learned concepts in situational businesses to translate innovation into commerce. The competitive atmosphere increases the intensity and sharpens capability of participants. This is certainly the showcase of our best talent.”

Balwin expressed her gratitude and excitement for her future business endeavors.

“I am humbled and blessed that I came out on top and left with money to further my passion,” she said. “I was honored to battle against my peers and their great business ideas. This was great exposure for myself and my business.”