HENRY COUNTY, VA — Six months ago, Giselle Lopez entered the RISE business competition with an idea and an open mind.
After weeks of training, working and competing through the various levels of the competition, Lopez earned a spot in the final round and the chance to pitch her business idea to a panel of business experts.
Just like on the popular show “Shark Tank,” she will only have a few moments to pique the interest of the panel.
Like the show, real money is at stake.
The winning entrepreneurs will share $10,000.
For Lopez, the process has been a reward in itself.
“I’m here for the race even if I don’t win. I went there wanting to learn,” Lopez said. “Regardless of the outcome, I will come away with knowledge, information and mentors for the future that I cannot find anywhere else. Being a first generation student, this is the guidance I need.
Lopez is an untraditional student pursuing her studies in small business management at Patrick & Henry Community College while working full time and raising two children.
“Doing the RISE contest while raising kids and working — it’s amazing,” says Nancy Phillips, Ph.D., professor of business technology at P&HCC. “I feel like she deserves an award just because of that. We’re so proud of her!
Although winning the competition would give her a significant boost, Lopez says she intends to start her new business with or without the prize money.
“I see my business in five years. Maybe even more than one mobile location or service. I see it happening regardless of winning. Whether I win or not, I want it to happen. If I don’t win, I’ll work harder,” Lopez says.
What is his big idea?
Lopez says she plans to open a dual-purpose salon and photography studio that will serve as a one-stop-shop for anyone preparing for a special occasion.
Customers will be able to have their makeup, nails and photograph taken in his business.