Bri Nellis, a 2016 graduate of Clarion University, was awarded a second place prize of $5,000 in the sixth annual PASSHE Student Business Plan Competition.
Nellis, of Clarion, who holds a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in marketing, will use the funds to expand her business, Bri Nellis Photography, into the Pittsburgh market, as well as to add drone photography/videography services to her menu of sports, portrait and commercial photography services.
"Our focus is to tell stories through our photos, whether it be under the Friday night lights, candid personalities in portraits, focusing on the friendships made in high school sports" or capturing "breathless views," said Nellis, describing her business plan.
The annual competition is designed to provide student entrepreneurs a real-world opportunity to pitch their original business plans and to win funds to assist in the start-up of their businesses. Students from the 14 State System universities are invited to participate in the competition each year.
The competition attracted the interest of 203 student teams from across the statewide system; 109 venture profiles were submitted. Five Clarion students competed, including Nellis and Austin Blose of Strattanville, a senior business management major, whose plan for a fitness facility advanced to semifinals. Clarion competitors worked directly with Clarion University Small Business Development Center to develop formal business plans.
Prizes were $10,000 for first, $5,000 for second and $2,500 for third.
Nellis is the third Clarion student to be awarded one of the top three prizes in the six-year history of the program.
Funding for the PASSHE Student Business Plan Competition program and awards was made possible through support from Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Foundation, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, East Stroudsburg University Center of Research and Economic Development, Marathon Studios, Inc., and MVM Associates.