Freshman Entrepreneur Wins First Place at Business Model Competition

Posted by:
Angelica Owens
November 14, 2023

Students awarded more than $33,000 to fund their businesses

The technology behind Automatic AI allows a user to practice his or her basketball shot and get instant feedback via an Apple Watch app. Automatic AI, co-founded by Ole Miss freshman Julien Bourgeois, won the top prize at this year’s Servin’ the South Business Model Competition, hosted by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – An Apple Watch app that provides data and feedback on the wearer’s basketball shooting motion won first place during the 2023 Servin’ the South Business Model Competition.

Hosted by the University of Mississippi Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the annual competition allows students to pitch their business to expert judges for a chance to win $10,000.

Julien Bourgeois, a freshman computer science major from Metairie, Louisiana, is the co-founder and CEO of Automatic AI LLC, which took home the Best Technology Utilization/Development Use award in addition to the competition’s top prize.

Julien Bourgeois

“When the first-place prize was announced, at first I was completely shocked,” Bourgeois said. “Since I had previously been named as the prize winner for ‘Best Tech’ seconds earlier, I figured that I wasn’t going to be named as the first prize winner for the entire event.

“The presentations of the other teams involved in the final round were absolutely incredible.”

This marks the second first-place win for Automatic AI, which won the inaugural StartupUNO competition, a business accelerator and pitch competition for students at the University of New Orleans. Andrew Bradford, a marketing major at UNO, is Bourgeois’ partner on the startup.

The partners won $7,000 at the UNO competition. Paired with $10,000 for the first-place showing at Ole Miss and $4,000 for winning the Big Tech segment, they have brought in $21,000 in funding for their concept.

Twenty-five teams of entrepreneurs from across the country were selected from 41 entries to compete, with six advancing to the final round. All six finalists received at least $1,000 in funding.

“The Servin’ the South Business Model serves as our students’ opportunity to participate in the entrepreneurial ecosystem through the Southeast,” said Rich Gentry, CIE co-director. “Thanks to generous donor support, we were able to gather students from across the region to compete for funding but, most importantly, build connections and learn from other students.

Automatic AI provides instant feedback via an app on a user’s basketball shot, helping them to improve their game in real time. Submitted photo

“As a learning opportunity, this was a fantastic success, but as a networking opportunity for our students, this competition is transformative.”

Matther Tesvich and Jack Terhaar, from the University of Georgia, won second place for Ox Sox, a sock that fights foot odor. Ole Miss students Owen Ridgeway, from Jackson; David Markham, of Houston, Texas; and Preston Rollins, from Atlanta, received the Best Consumer Facing Award for SellVNTG, which they co-founded.

Pool Protection Technologies, represented by Garrett Stigall from the University of Georgia, was named Best Visiting Team. Other finalists included Ole Miss students Madison Hanna, of Leawood, Kansas, and Maryn Sifrit, of Overland Park, Kansas, co-founders of the Collegemate App, and Claire Watkiss, an Ole Miss senior from Hinsdale, Illinois, and founder of Needle.

The competition provided valuable experience, Hanna said.

“I don’t love public speaking so this definitely got me out of my comfort zone, but I feel like I learned a lot from hearing other presentations and feedback from the judges,” she said.