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Hillsborough Community College Awards $13,000 in Pitch Prize Money at Annual Veterans Entrepreneurship Training Symposium


(Tampa, Fla.) - Hillsborough Community College (HCC) held the 9th Annual Veterans Entrepreneurship Training Symposium (VETS) at the Dale Mabry Campus on Saturday, November 6, 2021. With the support of the HCC Foundation, presenting sponsor USAA, event sponsor Hillsborough County’s EDi2 Grant and led by Professor Beth Kerly and Dr. Andy Gold, the event was able to reach over 200 attendees and distribute $13,000 of pitch prize awards to six veteran-owned businesses.

“VETS is a game changer for our veterans, active military and the family members who support them. It’s an excellent engaging and supportive opportunity to take a passion to do what you love and make it a reality,” said HCC Dale Mabry Campus President Dr. Paige Niehaus. “The InLab@HCC does an amazing job of bringing in speakers and resources to guide attendees every step of the way in becoming an entrepreneur.”

The financial-themed pitch competition was facilitated by four judges: Alfred Goldberg, Absolute Marketing Solutions; Alan Mustacchi, Greensky Inc.; Mecca Nelson, Yoma Method; and Rolanda McDuffie CPA.

In the Concept Pitch category, the following businesses were recognized:

- First place - My Lumps LLC, founded by Petrayris Del Angel.

- Second place - Forgot or Knot Charter, founded by Jason Hendricks.

- Third place - NHR Photography, founded by Nicki Hollman-Rawlings. 


In the Startup Pitch category, the businesses awarded were:

- First place - LAB Theater Project Inc, founded by Owen Robertson.

- Second place - On French To Go, founded by August Davis.

Third place - Support A Troop, founded by Brandon Dutkiewicz.


“The VET Symposium is a day filled with purpose and promise for the future,” said Kerly.

A big part of that future includes HCC students like Brandon Dutkiewicz, an Army Veteran who participated in the financial pitch competition.

“Seeing fellow students in the audience while pitching made me feel at ease,” said Dutkiewicz. “The symposium provided me with a unique opportunity to network, form bonds of friendship, which made me feel part of a larger community.”

Throughout the daylong event, attendees heard from esteemed guests and subject matter experts that spoke on various topics related to entrepreneurship, including:

- Tampa Bay Technical High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Color Guard

- Retired Sergeant Major Peter Hall USMC

- Sean Johnson, HCC Financial Aid Manager

Dr. Niehaus, HCC Dale Mabry Campus President

- Gwen Myers, Hillsborough County Commissioner

- Keynote speaker Paul Sohl, CEO Florida High Tech Corridor and Retired Rear Admiral for the United States Navy

- Marcel Blythe, USAA Assistant Vice President

- Kim Randall, KiMedia Strategies

- Dr. Isabelle Monlouis, Georgia State University

- Dr. Dileep Rau, Florida International University

- Dewayne Kimble, KMD89 VA Claims Consulting

- Andy Bennett, National Center for Responsible Government Contracting

- April Atkins, FDIC; Lisa Mifflin, U.S. Treasury Department

- Frazier Flasher, Brown & Zohar Law

- Rolanda McDuffie CPA

- Michael Lopez Rios, 0-0-8 Studios

- Alfred Goldberg, Absolute Marketing Solutions

- Jen McDonald, Merchant Insurance Solutions


"USAA was honored to once again sponsor the HCC Veterans Entrepreneurship Training Symposium and Pitch Competition," Blythe said. "We are proud to support our community by helping veterans achieve their financial security and dreams."


The 10th Annual VET Symposium is scheduled to be held on November 5, 2022.


"The day was filled with inspiration. I would absolutely love to be part of the 10th anniversary event, and I am anxious to collaborate with HCC and the InLab," said Sohl.


Hillsborough Community College serves over 42,000 students annually at its five campuses located throughout Tampa Bay. The College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. For more information, visit

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