A Winning End to the BB&T Leadership Symposium

Earlier this month, IEI hosted 16 teams of young social entrepreneurs from across the state in an extensive leadership development weekend at Hunt Library on NC State’s Centennial Campus. These 16 teams represented the winners of IEI’s six regional BB&T Discovery Forums, held across the state in fall 2016. Sponsored by BB&T, the Discovery Forum series serves to inform, inspire, and connect young social entrepreneurs (ages 18-30) to local leaders in North Carolina who share a strong interest in social entrepreneurship that can positively affect the community.

 The BB&T Leadership Symposium, designed to build upon the participants’ innate leadership and entrepreneurial skills, culminated in a final pitch competition, with $15,000 in awards distributed to the top three teams.


First Place ($10,000): Fecal Finders, Mary Jaskowiak

Fecal Finders, founded by Mary Jaskowiak, recognizes that clean water is an essential right for both drinking and recreational uses. When human waste enters the water, bacteria and viruses pose potential health risks. Mary, a senior pursuing a degree in environmental science with a minor in biology at UNC Wilmington, conducted significant research using optical brighteners—synthetic chemicals in laundry detergents—for testing human waste in natural waters.

Mary plans to use her prize money to develop an affordable and effective field kit that can be used to test for the presence of human waste in natural waters, as well as to track the source of the waste. This portable kit will be far superior to traditional laboratory monitoring. We are thrilled to see what Mary does next!

Second Place ($3,000): Resilience Project, Jake Teitelbaum & Colt Mienke

Resilience Project, founded by cancer survivor Jake Teitelbaum, works with financially disadvantaged patients to design and produce pairs of socks that represent their battle with chronic illness. For each pair sold, Resilience donates half of the net proceeds back to the patient to help him/her pay for treatment expenses.

To learn more about Jake, his team, and Resilience Project, please check out resilience.gives.

Third Place ($2,000): Beyond Tutoring, LLC, Matthew McCall & Katie Thomas

Beyond Tutoring, founded by Matthew McCall and Katie Thomas, is a veteran-owned, mobile, academic tutoring company that trains and employs qualified local tutors to assist students of various demographics. As veterans themselves, Matthew and Katie recognize that veterans face unique challenges when returning to school, and the founders of Beyond Tutoring are putting their skill sets to work to ensure that military veterans and financially disadvantaged North Carolina students are able to meet their full classroom potential.

To learn more about the work that Beyond Tutoring is doing in their community, visit www.beyond.vet.


All of the participating teams at this year’s BB&T Leadership Symposium were topically and geographically diverse, and we were so proud to host such a phenomenal group of young entrepreneurs for the weekend. Congratulations to all of the teams for their hard work; we expect great success ahead for all of these North Carolina innovators!

IEI would like to extend a special thanks to all of the guest speakers, panelists, consultants and judges, who provided invaluable feedback and contributed to the overall success of the weekend.

Finally, without the commitment and support of BB&T and The BB&T Leadership Institute, this event would not have been possible. We’re awed by their dedication to developing future leaders across North Carolina, and for that, we offer our sincerest gratitude!