Hector Becerra and Grant Hall are two Greeley Aims Community College students who made it to finals and won in the 12th Annual Entrepreneurial Challenge hosted at the University of Northern Colorado Monfort College of Business on March 8, according to the new release.
Hall took home first place and won $6,000 for his business Martian Media, and Hector Becerra won fourth place and $2,000 for his business Chicha Mate energy drink.
"After I graduate from Aims, I plan on transferring to a University and pursuing a bachelor's degree in business management," Hall said.
"I will also continue to be the CEO of Martian Media, becoming Colorado's first indoor drone tour company and eventually growing and expanding the business into more aerial services," Hall said.
"I plan to produce the Chicha Mate energy drink locally, market and sell the product online, " Becerra said.
The Entrepreneurial Challenge allows students to gain entrepreneurial skills and create innovative ideas to pitch a business, enter a competition, and receive feedback from industry leaders. The student meets other entrepreneurs and wins prize money.
Becerra, studying accounting, came up with the idea of an energy drink made by his grandmother's recipe when visiting Mexico. His business is called Chicha Mate, a low-sugar energy drink with antioxidants made with fruit and natural spices.
"I used to visit my grandmother in Mexico when I was a kid and she would make us this drink made with purple corn and other ingredients; it was so refreshing on a hot summer day," Becerra said.
Diana Leted, communications major at UNC, helped Becerra at the event with the presentation and marketing of Chicha Mate.
Becerra has a work-study job with Aims TRIO Student Support Services that helps underrepresented students develop skills, work experience, and education aspirations. TRIO advisor Arizbe Soto-Ramirez and the TRIO staff contributed to giving feedback for improvement on Becerra's presentation and business plan.
Joanne San Nicolas, professor in Becerra's business class at Aims, encouraged him to participate in the Entrepreneurial Challenge.
"I am excited that we have two Aims students in the finalist competition. It's an outstanding opportunity for students," San Nicolas said. "I have observed over these last few years how the employees at UNC have developed into a first-rate experience in this competition. It has wonderful energy."
Grant Hall is a business major graduating in May. While Hall was at Mead High School, he took the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) course at Aims and created a business with drone photography called Martian Media.
"I was inspired to start Martian Media after I realized the potential and multiple use cases that drones could be used for in an unsaturated market. Indoor drone tours are the new way to show off properties," Hall said.
Martian Media provides drone photography for real estate companies to offer virtual tours of homes on the market. Hall custom-built his drone to provide exterior and interior footage of real estate for gyms and weddings.
"It shows us the house in a whole new way. With support from Aims business program and UAS program they both played a "key role" in developing Martian Media," Hall said.
Jennifer Markiewicz business professor was influential in inspiring Hall to participate in the completion and helping prepare.
Hall said her knowledge had been a tremendous help, and his business classes provided communication skills, financial acumen, networking, and legal aspects of becoming an entrepreneur.
Jake Marshall, UAS Chief Instructor Pilot, taught technical operations and test preparation for the UAS testing.
"He was a huge help regarding the drones' technical aspects. The UAS program "has helped catalyze my success in practice, planning, preflight planning, preflight checks, and creating standard operating procedures," Hall said.
Hall said the experience with the competition is invaluable.
"It's just a great experience because being an entrepreneur is something I've always wanted to do." It also has been beneficial to his company. "I've definitely learned a lot about my business and a whole new perspective on it. All the feedback I've gotten has helped a ton," Hall said