Necas Collins, a University of Bridgeport (UB) Master’s in Business Administration student, won the first-place award at the Virtual Techstars Startup Weekend hosted by Sacred Heart University. The event took place from June 19-21, 2020 over a span of fifty-four hours. There were forty-four participants from all over the world. Twenty business ideas were submitted and only six were selected to be worked on during the competition.
Collins’ winning idea was to create an investment platform called Moo-La Investment Group to help farmers in his native Jamaica raise capital and expand cattle and agricultural production. “My business idea came about because I noticed that there was a gap between investment capital and the agriculture industry in Caribbean countries. During the weekend, I worked with a team from all over the world to create a platform that will attract venture capitalists to invest in the farmers in Jamaica.”
Collins said that coming from a developing country, he “would like to help improve the quality of life of the hardworking farmers.” He also shared that his father is a farmer and loves animals and plants. He sends money for him to buy and sell cattle, and they share the profits. Currently, he and his father own two small farms and have three cattle. That is how he came up with the idea of developing Moo-la Investment Group, as a revenue share platform, similar to Airbnb or Uber.
Collins shared his idea in his Business Planning course taught by Professor Elena Cahill, director of the UB Student Entrepreneur Center (UBSEC). Collins is a new member of the UBSEC, and he said that Cahill gave him the confidence to develop and structure his business idea. “The business plan that I created in her course was so helpful. Her classes prepared me for the competition,” he said.
Cahill was excited to hear the news that he won first place at the competition. “He is a very mature, respectful and diligent student. I was so excited for him. It crossed my mind that he is a working father and student, and he took the time on Father’s Day weekend to invest in his business. His dedication to the success of his company was exciting for me to see.” Cahill also noted that UB students are very entrepreneurial: “There is something so exciting about seeing the entrepreneurial spirit of our students.”
Collins shared his reaction when he heard the news that he won first place at the competition:
I was screaming. I was with my wife and I felt a validation that I am on the right path. When you pursue a life as an entrepreneur and you often question yourself, winning was a validation that the judges saw a good idea and I should pursue it.”
He added, “There were many ideas at the competition that solved many problems, but I never imagined that my idea was going to be the top one.”
The UBSEC at the Ernest C. Trefz School of Business is open to all matriculated University of Bridgeport students and aims to accelerate the successful development of start-ups. The mission of the Center is to produce successful businesses by providing student entrepreneurs with an array of targeted resources and services.
Techstars Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, Techstars Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos and presentations. Participants create working startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. All teams hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from local entrepreneurs. The weekend is centered around action, innovation, and education. Whether you are looking for feedback on an idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Techstars Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.