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Freshman wins coveted entrepreneurship award for unique shoe pitch

By MICHAEL YU

With a pitch for an adjustable and customizable high heel shoe, Morgan Barse, a freshman marketing major, took the first place prize at the Entrepreneur’s Organization of Tampa business pitch competition on Jan. 25. She competed against eight other entrepreneurs from around the nation with two others also being UT freshmen.  Barse is the first and only freshman to win this award.  

Her idea for an adjustable heeled shoe came from an earlier accident in her life and general travel inconveniences she’d had.

“One of my partners left his blazer at a Chipotle and so we ended up being 30 minutes late and I was wearing heels, which I later had to take off, and at that moment wished I could adjust them,” Barse said. “Also, when it comes to packing, you want to make sure you have matching shoes in accordance with your outfit. This design not only is adjustable in height, but can also be customizable to swap colors as well.”

The event consisted of a 12-minute idea pitch and a 10-minute question and answering session in front of judges. After that, contestants were judged on their business plan, knowledge of business and sustainability.

“Morgan presented herself energetically and very well prepared,” said Laura Webb, the chapter president of Entrepreneurs Organization of Tampa. “She was eager to receive feedback, she definitely did research on her finances and she strategically incorporated props which helped with her presentation.”

Although UT’s nationally accredited entrepreneurship program has hundreds of students, Barse’s ambition made her a stand-out to her professors.

“We have several things we look for in our entrepreneurs, and two of them are passion and follow-through, and Morgan possesses both,” said Kevin Moore, a former entrepreneur and director of operations for the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center. “She exhibits passion for her fashionable, yet comfortable idea for a shoe and she demonstrates pursuit and follow-through in her diligence with the details to her work.”

Barse’s first-place award granted her a $3,000 prize that is given by alumni. She also will receive coaching and feedback to further develop her skills to become successful in business, which Barse said she really looks forward to.

“One thing I have learned being a young entrepreneur is that it is sometimes really discouraging at times being an entrepreneur alone, so just to have the feedback in areas I can improve upon and encouragement makes it that much more optimistic moving forward,” Barse said.

Despite winning such a prestigious award, she will not be one to tell you about it, according to Kiana Hughes, a freshman political science and journalism major and classmate of Barse. “Oftentimes, I get frustrated with her because she is just so humble and hates to brag,” Hughes said. Hughes went on to further praise Barse on her ability to pitch, “I have gone to one of her entrepreneurship meetings and seen her utterly blow the room away; it was beyond impressive.”

Hughes said that she is excited to see what Barse will achieve in her next few years at UT.

“This girl is one of a kind and I know that her future will hold a ton of successes and she is definitely on the rise,” Hughes said.

Michael Yu can be reached at michael.yu@spartans.ut.edu.

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