Southern to host Adventist entrepreneurial conference meant to inspire student businesses

Members of the BringIt project from 2022
(Photo courtesy of: Roman Johnson)
Members of the BringIt project from 2022 (Photo courtesy of: Roman Johnson)

Hyve Creators 2023, an entrepreneurial conference featuring successful investors and business innovators in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, will take place on Southern Adventist University’s campus from March 2-5. 

According to Southern’s website, the event will provide attendees with “many networking opportunities, workshops, keynotes, testimonies, pitches, and booths — all focused on combining mission, innovation, and entrepreneurship.”

The conference will take place in the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists and Iles Gym. Multiple individuals, including David Asscherick, co-director of Light Bearers, will speak. Individuals can register and view the list of speakers and schedule at

Businesses can also register to set up booths to sell products and advertise. However, as of Sunday, Feb. 19, only five spots were left. Registering for a booth costs $399 for standard businesses and $99 for student businesses. 

As of Wednesday, Feb. 15, over 350 individuals were registered to attend, and 139 businesses were registered to have booths, according to Lauryn Daniels, senior public relations major. Daniels is co-project manager of BringIt alongside Kelsie Alonso, sophomore entrepreneurship major.

The event is the product of a partnership between Southern’s School of Business, Enactus SAU’s BringIt team and Hyve International, described by Daniels as a worldwide community of missional Seventh-day Adventist entrepreneurs.   

Daniels said the BringIt project aims to connect student entrepreneurs with mentors to help grow their businesses. The project is known for hosting an annual pitch competition, and it will host the competition this year during Hyve Creators 2023, she added. The competition, titled “The Lion’s Den,” will involve 10 startup businesses presenting to a panel of investors and members of Hyve International in what Southern’s website described as “an Adventist version of Shark Tank.”

According to Daniels, the first place winner will receive $5,000, the second place winner $2,500 and the third place winner $1,000. On Friday, March 4, the conference will also host a competition for 10 early-stage business startups. The first place winner will receive $3,000, the second place winner $1,000 and the third place winner $750.

“Last year, they offered loans [during BringIt’s pitch competition],” Alonso said. “This year, we’re doing prize money. This won’t be a loan.”

Daniels said each winner will have the opportunity to accept a loan, but they will still receive the prize money whether or not they take one. 

As of Wednesday, Feb. 15, the pitch competitions had over 50 submissions sent in by students and community members. The BringIt team has been screening through the submissions this past week.

Students will be able to receive cultural credit by attending the pitch competitions and enrichment credit by attending Friday night’s vespers, according to Daniels and Alonso. Individuals can register to attend the event when they walk in; however, Daniels and Alonso said, they prefer for people to register online beforehand so the team can better prepare. 

Enactus SAU’s partnership with Hyve International began last semester when the business community reached out to the BringIt team, composed of about 10 students. Michelle Doucoumes, professor in the School of Business and Enactus SAU’s adviser, also serves as Hyve International’s treasurer, according to Daniels and Alonso.

The project team held a meet-and-greet last semester to connect student entrepreneurs with Hyve International mentors, according to Alonso. For months, the team has been planning and advertising Hyve Creators 2023.

When asked how this event aligns with BringIt’s mission, Alonso said, “There are people our age, our peers, all around us that do have dreams and goals and ideas that can actually be made into something if they have enough support, and we want to give that to them.”

Daniels said she wants attendees to walk away from the conference inspired and empowered.

“One thing that Kelsie and I would always talk about is fear and how that kind of starts in your mind, and you kind of limit yourself,” Daniels said. “ … Through this event, you’re listening to people’s ideas and seeing them be go-getters. … Like, this could be you. Be inspired, know that you have that support and be empowered through it.”

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