Student Challenge Class of 2021

The Challenge

This year, 27 teams from 19 NRF Foundation University Member schools competed in the Student Challenge case competition for a chance to earn tuition scholarships and industry recognition.

For the Challenge, teams were comprised of two to four entrepreneurs who established a small business venture in a retail sector of their choice. They created a set of products and were ready to take their business to the next level by getting their line into a major retailer: Nordstrom, Target, The Home Depot or Qurate Retail Group. Teams collaborated on a 30-page pitch deck and a 90-second pitch video to convince their selected retailer of why and how their businesses could collaborate.

Teams' pitches were evaluated by a group of retail executive judges on their research and understanding, creativity and feasibility, visual effectiveness and structure and quality. Ten teams advanced to the semifinals, which included Q&A calls with a panel of new retail executive judges.

Three teams advanced to the final round, where they pitched live to a third panel of judges in January 2021.

The Scholarships

Each student on the top team will receive a $6,000 scholarship; students on the runner-up team will each receive a $3,500 scholarship, and third place team members will each receive a $2,500 scholarship. The top team will be named during NRF 2021: Retail's Big Show - Chapter 1.
 

Top Team

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
Ellie Smith, Etheline Ting & Emily Wilken
Selected Retailer: Target
FIDM Target Team

Second Place Team

SCAD Atlanta Team
Savannah College of Art & Design - Atlanta
Rachel Bennett, Madison Moats & Viren Shah
Selected Retailer: Target

Third Place Team

FIDM Nordstrom Team
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
Kaci Balfany, Ysabella Gardner & Tiffany Makdissy
Selected Retailer: Nordstrom

Semifinalists

CCC - EverySkate
Columbia College Chicago
Eryn Jones, Loren Parker Alfred Pell & Xitaly Viveros
Selected Retailer: Target
CCC - Qurate
Columbia College Chicago
Kirstin Kirshbaum, Ben Sill, Amaiya Sims & Brittany Wilson
Selected Retailer: HSN
Georgia Southern University - Aaru
Georgia Southern University
YeSenia Agosto-Rivera, Nicolas Sanchez, Katherine Trice
Selected Retailer: Target
Georgia Southern University - Encircle
Georgia Southern University
Brynna Chin-A-Young, Toni Librud, Mackenzie Miller & Brianna Shirey
Selected Retailer: Target
Marymount University
Marymount University
Joshua Dungo, Mariana Reyes & Carolyn Treuting
Selected Retailer: Nordstrom
SNHU
Southern New Hampshire University
Christhine Nicole Ersando & Diana Shia
Selected Retailer: Target
UW Madison
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Kennedy DeVries, Madison Hannon, Elizabeth McShane & Helen Yuan
Selected Retailer: Nordstrom