Car Detailing Company Wins Student Entrepreneur Competition

Detail Dawgs won $10,000 on Feb. 22 in the 2024 UGA Venture Prize Competition. The judges awarded second place to Sisterhood of the Traveling 20s, and Ox Sox, a second-time competitor, took third place. 

Around 60 students and supporters attended the event hosted by the UGA Entrepreneurship Program at Studio 225.

Detail Dawgs is a car detailing company owned by Jack TerHaar, a senior finance major, and based in Athens. His pitch revolved around his company’s customer service skills and focus on top-quality work.

TerHaar said he prepared by looking at old winning pitches and utilized storytelling to engage the audience.

“There’s really two qualifications (to win),” said judge Justin Ernest, a UGA alum with a background in finance and entrepreneurship. “Is the business viable and can it scale? Then, number two, what do you use $10,000 for and will the $10,000 make a big dent in the business plan in the long term?” 

Detail Dawgs’ plan for the $10,000 prize is to expand to more cities and new markets, purchase new equipment, create partnerships with commercial dealerships and advertise. This comprehensive plan is part of what earned them first place, Ernest said. 

“We need that advertising money to get our name out there and also investing in a route that’s gonna allow us to do the job more efficiently and be able to take on more work,” TerHaar said. 

The other three judges included Cam Frank, former UGA student and wardrobe stylist for musicians; Iv Culp, CEO of Culp Inc., a textile company; and Robert Bearden, Terry College’s entrepreneur-in-residence. 

Sisterhood of the Traveling 20s won second place with a pitch by Kelsie Pearson, junior journalism major. The Instagram-based business plans trips for women in their 20s focusing on fair prices and safety planning catered to young women. 

“You have to meet (customers) where they’re spending the majority of their time,” Pearson said. 

Kelsie Pearson pitches her company, Sisterhood of the Traveling 20s, to the panel of judges at the 2024 UGA Venture Prize Competition at Studio 225 on Feb. 22, 2024. Her company won second place with a $5,000 prize. (Photo/Laari Ruby)

Customers are often found through promotional posts and apply to trips through DMs. 

Ten students presented pitches. Each person had five minutes to pitch and two minutes for questions from the judges. 

Existing businesses such as Ox Sox and Fire Truck Rental of Atlanta described their current operations and how the first place prize could push their business to the next level. Others, such as TLS by Sean Snarey and UpTo by Phillip Ellington, pitched their ideas for a venture and detailed how the prize could jumpstart their process. 

Ernest said there was much debate in the process of selecting the winner, and that many of the pitches were interesting and unique ideas. Judges were impressed with competitors who were able to show proof of their sales and audience. 

Judges gave feedback to each company before the announcement of the winners. Fire Truck Rentals of Atlanta was told it should focus on scaling up and franchising their existing company. Culp called Tyler Meyer, owner of the company, a “master marketer” and believes he is onto something really big. 

Laari Ruby is a journalism major covering business and consumer news.

 

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