Winning team SPAITR jumps
The 2021 winning teams included 1st place SPAITR – (left to right) Joel Neleber‘22, Brayden Esmaili ’23, Nathaniel Hunt ‘22; faculty advisor Ian Grant, executive director of the ECenter; 3rdplace Mongo -Jessica Nelson ‘21; and 2ndplace HallHub -Nicolas Camara ‘21, Garrett Frohman ‘21, Caleb Peffer ‘22

Holloway Competition Seeds Entrepreneurs and Innovators

30% of former student participants are currently owners or founders of companies

hroughout the past 33 years more than 100 Paul J. Holloway Prize Competition finalists have launched nearly 120 businesses. Thirty of those businesses started as competition pitches, and almost 60% have been based in New Hampshire. To this day, 30% of former participants are currently the owner or founder of a company.

Some of these include:
Tuscan Kitchen & MarketJoe Farro
Nobl CoffeeConnor Roelke
CocoChewChip Linton, Chris Lovell, Edward Hoogasian, Ryan Kelly
NextStep HealthTechSam Warach
JaJaBelle’sJessica DePontiad
Socha CompaniesSheila McDonough
KikoriKendra Bostick
YouSchedulerBrancesco Mikulis Borsoi, Krstian Comer
My Place Teen CenterDonna Dwyer
Fuller Health GroupBrian Fuller
It’s safe to say that three decades of Holloway have made a resounding impact on New Hampshire business. For many students the competition has been the first real step out of the classroom and into the real world.

“Holloway pointed me in the right direction, and really launched my ability to start my own business,” Laura Gilman ‘02 said about the competition she won her graduating year. “But even if you aren’t interested in being your own boss and stepping out on your own, the things you learn through being a part of Holloway — writing a budget, making a business plan, proposing a bank for a loan, or simply standing in front of a group of people you don’t know and professing your passions – is invaluable to any part of your life as a functioning adult in society.”

Jessica Nelson ‘21 giving presentation
Jessica Nelson ‘21, won 3rd place in the 2021 competition for her business plan to bring Mongo, a new sustainable plant-based protien derived from mung beans that is high in protein, to market. She is now a field sales representative for HP Hood, LLC.
Holloway participants are challenged to conceptualize, develop and pitch proposals to bring a product to market. Entries must be innovative, feasible to implement, and address an identified market need. Andrew Earle, Paul College assistant professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship chairs the competition and student teams get coaching from the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center, as well as from professors.

After multiple stages of competition throughout the spring semester, teams are whittled down to six competitors who present their ideas to a panel of industry professionals for a chance to win up to $17,000 in seed money.

Business pitches have ranged from cold brew coffee, to medical tech to treat brain tumors, educational phone apps, athletic clubs, and even dog toys. Holloway helps UNH students learn valuable business skills and apply them in pursuit of their passions.

As the head of her own talent management company in Manchester, N.H., Gilman represents more than 35 artists across the globe and takes “hundreds of phone calls trying to convince strangers to spend thousands of dollars on the premise that what I deliver is going to be wonderful.” She’s thankful to UNH and Holloway for teaching her how to pitch herself and pursue the life she always wanted.

Sam Warach ‘17 feels similarly, describing Holloway as a “great place to get your feet wet.”

“It provided structure and incentive for me to learn important skills and make things happen under tight deadlines,” said Warach, who currently heads NextStep HealthTech, a mission-driven health technology company dedicated to the improvement of public health. His company recently partnered with the NH Department of Education to ensure their new app, GoodLife, is available to secondary students statewide. NextStep was originally a Holloway competition pitch, although Warach beat himself that year with a separate entry for a social messaging app called Droppit.

“I highly recommend Holloway for any student pursuing entrepreneurship,” Warach said. “It’s okay to put something out there even if you don’t think it’s perfect. You’re only going to learn and you never know–it could turn into something more than you ever thought it could be.”

The competition itself has adapted and grown since its inception in 1988. Initially competition participants were heavily sourced as part of the entrepreneurship track in Paul College (the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the time), before attracting participants college-wide and now university system-wide. Holloway is open to all students, both undergraduate and graduate, in all majors at the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth State University, Keene State College, and Granite State College.

While the recent COVID pandemic added unforeseen challenges, it also inspired some necessary changes to formatting that may persist, including video pitches, web-assisted people’s choice voting, and live broadcasting of the final round to reach a wider audience. Bob Dakin ‘77, founder and principal of BD Consulting, has been a Holloway Prize Competition judge many times over. He believes this cross-pollination within the university system adds vigor to the competition, and highlights the strength and skills of young entrepreneurs across New Hampshire.

“It’s truly a two-way street, judging Holloway,” Dakin said. “I learn a tremendous amount from the students and their business concepts. This competition really gives back to New Hampshire by inspiring and funding these innovative ideas–entrepreneurial and small businesses are critical components to fueling and rejuvenating the local economy.”

“Holloway launched my ability to launch my own business,” Gilman said. “These days I’m a well-prepared, experienced, trustworthy person who’s done my research. A lot of that stems from my career at UNH.”

The Holloway Competition is the oldest of its kind in New Hampshire. Holloway’s wife, Anna Grace, son, Scott, and daughter, Debra, established the Paul J. Holloway Prize in 1988 to honor his achievements and contributions to the educational and business communities. The continued support of the family has allowed for thousands of students to pitch their business ideas over the past 33 years.