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Marietta College freshmen claim first round of PioBiz with ‘thrift shop’ idea

From left, Lilly Posti and Alexis Summers, first-round winners in the Marietta College PioBiz competition. (Photo Provided)

MARIETTA — A month after winning the top spot in the first round of Marietta College’s PioBiz competition, Lilly Posti of Burgettstown, Pa., and Alexis Sommers of Nelsonville were turning their idea into a reality.

Posti and Sommers, freshmen in the Class of 2025, received the $190 first-place award with their campus thrift shop idea, “The Big Blue.”

On April 6, the duo conducted a thrifting event in the Andrews Hall Great Room.

“Lilly and I really like fashion and sustainability,” said Sommers, who is majoring in entrepreneurship. “We came up with the idea of creating a campus thrift shop that would allow students to purchase, at a very low cost, clothes or items they might need.”

Posti, a communication studies major, said Big Blue supports and accommodates students.

“If they really need something, then we want to provide it to them at cost or at no cost,” Posti said.

More time and resources are needed before their idea becomes fully operational, but the first-year students are enthused and encouraged.

“Being ranked high on the judge’s list and the audience’s votes led to our success,” Posti said.

While the four judges, John Bokat, Class of 2007, president of Compliance Services, Nikki Butler, class of 1999, artist and founder of Nikki Butler Design, Alex Hogan, class of 2018, sales manager with Malta Dynamics, and Faith Knutson, director of social innovation & entrepreneurship at Ohio University, may not have placed the eventual winners in the top spot, the audience backed Posti and Sommers with their “PioBiz Dollars.”

“A lot of people started talking about our idea on Yik Yak, and they were telling people to donate during our thrifting event,” Sommers said. “We’ve had other students reach out to us asking for our digital posters so they could share it with friends. We even had one guy at PioBiz tell us he wanted to help us get this started.”

Posti and Sommers plan to compete in the next two rounds of PioBiz. The $10,000 grand prize would be a key part of getting the on-campus business off the ground sooner than anticipated, they said.

“However, if we found the resources over the summer we could launch it in the fall,” Sommers said.

Eight groups presented during the first round of the competition on March 3. The PioBiz Competition is supported by the Riverview Credit Union Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneurship Expo.

Round 1 of the PioBiz Competition consists of identifying a problem that is worth solving and describing a new product or service that solves the problem. The proposed solution must potentially lead to the establishment of a for-profit or non-profit organization.

The other seven projects placed as follows:

* Second place ($180): CNC Services (Oil & Gas Well Service): Caleb Craig, class of 2022, Zanesville; Colton Neptune, class of 2022, New Concord, Ohio; and Dow Cameron.

* Third place ($170): MyTherapist (Group Therapy for College Students): Hannah McKain, class of 2023, Marietta.

* Fourth place ($160): Catch-A-Can (Recycling Sorting Robot): Noah Coleman, class of 2022, Dayton; Karsen Dye, class of 2024, Marietta; Bastian Gehrer, class of 2024, Natters, Austria; and Haille Rogers, class of 2025, Apollo Beach, Fla.

* Fifth place ($150): Culture to Classroom (International students providing cultural activities to local schools): Yutaro Ito, class of 2025, Osaka, Japan; and Isaiah Mitchell, class of 2025, Marietta.

* Sixth place ($140): Velcro Fit (Preventing fitted sheets from coming undone): Nathaniel Stellfox, class of 2025, Dexter City, Ohio.

* Seventh place ($130): Exercise with US (Group exercising program): Drew Ultican, class of 2025, Baltimore.

* Eighth place ($120): Car Pals (Matching drivers and passengers): Lauren Giles, class of 2023, Follansbee, W.Va., and Alyssa Sims, class of 2022, Stone Creek, Ohio.

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