UNM Anderson Supports Local Entrepreneurs with Pitch Competition, Final Event for First Cohort

Finalists onstage

The UNM Anderson School of Management’s Center for Responsible Entrepreneurship hosted a pitch competition June 6 in Santa Fe, concluding the inaugural cohort of the entrepreneur-focused Accelerator Program.

The Accelerator Program is a rigorous 10-month program that combines education, mentoring, developing business plans and investor pitches with shared practical experiences. Program directors Jon Mertz and Robert DelCampo guided participants in refining their ventures to meet market demand and generate early revenue.

The 10 business pitches were evaluated by a panel of three judges: Drew Tulchin, president of New Mexico Angels; Ward Hendon, general partner of Dangerous Ventures; and Bridget Dixon, president and CEO of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce.

The top three most compelling pitches were Rachel Lee with Artisans of Nations, Eric Maria with Princes' Pies, and Alexandra Merlino with Bee Wild Outside. Each received $2,500 to continue developing their ventures. Amy Lin with InHouse CTS was named the fourth place runner-up.

"The accelerator program gave me the confidence to pursue my business and helped me realize my passion for entrepreneurship. As a UNM student, it’s one of the best experiences and courses I’ve had," said Eric Maria. "The pitch competition was a great way to combine everything I learned."

Additional participants were Prisma Avery with Borrow4Baby; Cindy Bohannon with Find the Good Stuff; AM Crehan with Lupine Permaculture and Rewilding; Colton Davies and Jessica Moore with Vault Pickleball; Ryan Glassmoyer with SPACE; and Kimberly Thompson and Cia Thorne with Dos Conejos.

"Every one of the entrepreneurs impressed with their venture pitches, emphasizing their markets, business models and commitment to positively impacting their communities," said Mertz. "This first cohort is diverse in their ventures, industries and backgrounds, and they came together as a community to help each other succeed. They paved the way for the next cohort."

Mertz and DelCampo are preparing for the 2024 program starting in August. More details on summer workshops and the application.