CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. (Oct. 17, 2023) — The Thomas More University Dr. Anthony ’65 and Geraldine ’66 Zembrodt Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation held its Fifth Third Bank Fast Pitch Competition on Oct. 3, 2023. At the event, teams of undergraduate students pitched new concepts, ideas for growth potential for existing businesses, and community growth models. The top student team took home $2,000 to help get their idea off the ground, while second place received $1,000 and third $500.

“Not only are we celebrating the winners today, but also the invaluable skills our students have acquired throughout this journey,” says Jeni Al Bahrani, director of the Zembrodt Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Skills like communication, presentation, problem-solving, problem validation, teamwork, time management, resilience, and navigating feedback are just the tip of the iceberg. Furthermore, the ability to navigate failure stands out as an important asset in any entrepreneurial venture or career.”

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Team Saints’ Express took home first-place with the concept of providing 24/7 assistance to students who do not have personal transportation on campus, ensuring that they can access essential items on campus such as menstrual products, toiletries, and other necessities. The Saints’ Express team included: Matthew Igel, Jenna Lillard, Emma McKenna, Sofia Pearson, and Tyshaun Thomas. The second-place team introduced the Thomas More Marketplace, a digital space where students that own small businesses, want to provide services, or sell other goods within the Thomas More community can post their listings and connect with interested consumers. The Thomas More Marketplace team consisted of: Aliza Brock, Drew Edrich, Blake Kibler, Omarion Pierce, and Donahugh Simpson. Third place was awarded to ACE, represented solely by Colin Wilmhoff. Wilmhoff had an eye on sustainability, pitching a cost effective, low impact bug meat that would solve the environmental impact of factory farms by replacing them as the main source of the meat market.

The event saw a great deal of community involvement, with Fifth Third Bank serving as title sponsor. A panel of judges from prominent local companies in the tristate also played a key role. Judges included Patrice Brooks of the Kroger Company, Jeremy Faust of Fifth Third, and Brianna Dzuricsko of Main St. Ventures. “Being a judge at the Fifth Third Bank Fast Pitch Competition at Thomas More University is like getting a front-row seat to the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders. Hearing the engaging presentations and different concepts from the student groups was inspiring,” Dzuricsko commented.

The past nine months have seen rapid development at the Zembrodt Center with the introduction of a new academic class, the inception of a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation, and the successful completion of the inaugural pitch competition. “We invite the community to get involved and champion the entrepreneurial spirit,” adds Al Bahrani. “The skills developed here are not just for startup ventures; they are transferable and essential for industry professionals as well.”

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About Thomas More University

For 100 years, Thomas More has created a university for the student who wants to Be More, Do More, Seek More, Win More, Achieve More, and Create More. Since its founding in 1921, Thomas More has provided a mission-driven, liberal arts education that is based in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Students learn to harness the power of human reason to solve problems and discover truth, which allows them to begin the journey to become the person they were created to be. Entering into the second century, it’s time for More. Serving more than 2,000 students, Thomas More aspires to be the premier Catholic university in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, build upon its excellent return on investment (ranked #1 among private universities/colleges in Kentucky by MSN Money in 2021 and ranked #2 for long term gain in Kentucky by a 2022 Georgetown University study) and share with this generation the transformative power of the Thomas More experience. To find out more, visit

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