KENNESAW, Ga. | Jun 23, 2023
While she may be in the toy business, Kennesaw State University Master of Business Administration student Heidi Walker was not playing around when she took first place in the recent Columbus State University 2023 Cougar Business Pitch Competition.
The annual event serves as a platform for undergraduate and graduate students to present their business ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to receive funding. Students have a tight five minutes to make their pitches. Walker impressed the judges with her innovative venture, Mommy & Me Toys, Inc., along with its line of products including the My Pray & Play Pal and The Wonderfully Made Doll Collection.
Walker’s first-place win secured her a cash prize of $3,000, which she plans to reinvest back into the company. Additionally, she was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to participate in StartUp Columbus, a business incubator program based in Columbus, Ga. She will meet with mentors at StartUp Columbus weekly for 12 weeks and learn to position her products effectively in mainstream retail.
“This was a great win for my company, and I will use it to continue to grow the company while making the right connections with retailers in the children's toy marketplace,” said Walker.
Walker’s business journey began in 2017 when she founded Mommy & Me Toys, Inc. with the intention of creating toys that would help children learn and engage in fun prayers that they could easily remember. Her products, the My Pray & Play Pal and The Wonderfully Made Doll Collection, are faith-based, talking, dancing prayer dolls and action pals.
“I found that a lot of the major children’s toy brands don’t offer faith-based children’s toy products and my company would aim to fill in this gap,” said Walker.
During the pitch competition, Heidi impressed the judges with her comprehensive action plan, outlining the conception of her idea, identifying the market need, and strategizing long-term growth. She highlighted the distinguishing features of her products, setting them apart from competitors in the market. Not only did her presentation help her win the pitch competition, but it is also something she can repurpose to help grow her business.
“This was a great learning opportunity,” said Walker. “In the future if I ever need to pitch to investors, I can refer to this pitch deck to guide me.”
Walker’s victory in the Cougar Pitch Competition is a testament to the knowledge she has acquired during her time in the Kennesaw State WebMBA program, particularly her entrepreneurship course taught by CSU’s Dr. Kirk Heriot. The WebMBA program is a partnership between seven University System of Georgia Schools, with faculty from each teaching online courses. Heriot’s course taught Walker the art of pitching a business to investors and creating an effective pitch deck. Perhaps the most crucial lesson she learned was the importance of believing in her products.
“It wasn't until I started my MBA classes that I realized that I had a product that the market wanted and needed,” Walker said. “I felt confident in participating in the pitch competition due to the classes I have taken within the WebMBA program and confident in my products.”
For Heriot, watching Walker grow as a student and successful businessperson has been a rewarding experience.
“Heidi has an authentic and professional manner about her which she was able to use to her advantage in presenting to the judges,” said Heriot. “Her pitch was incredibly well done. The judges were impressed with her level of detail and the examples of dolls she was able to share with them.”
Walker firmly believes that her decision to pursue her MBA at KSU was guided by fate, as it provided her with the necessary tools and opportunities to propel her business forward. She also sees her win at the Cougar Pitch Competition not only as an individual success, but a testament to the potential achievements of all WebMBA students.