Wesleyan students win $10,000 to start karaoke lounge

Wesleyan students win $10,000 to start karaoke lounge

wcrenshaw@macon.comApril 5, 2014 

The Next Big Idea in Macon is a karaoke lounge with private rooms.

A team of five Wesleyan College students won the College Hill Alliance’s inaugural Next Big Idea competition Saturday and the $10,000 prize that comes with it.

Don’t expect to jump on their stage and belt out “Friends in Low Places” anytime soon, however. The students estimate they will need $82,000 for the state-of-the-art equipment and other expenses needed to start the business.

But one team member, Tamara Bui, said the prize gives them some credibility when it comes to securing a loan or investors. A rising junior, she also said they may have to wait until they finish school.

They based the idea on similar lounges in Atlanta that are successful.

“There’s nothing like this here in Macon, so we were wondering, there should be one, at least,” she said.

Their idea is distinct in that it offers private rooms that groups of people can rent for $15-$25 per hour depending on the size of the room. Bui said many people like karaoke but don’t want to sing in front of a large crowd of strangers, so the business would allow people to do it front of friendly faces.

Also, the technology they plan to use would allow people to select from many different languages.

The second-place winner was Sarah Watters, a Georgia College & State University student who proposed a mobile business that would print photographs. She wants to get a vintage Volkswagon bus to draw attention, equip it with a $2,500 photo printer, and go to various events where people could print photos directly from their smartphones.

She believed people would want the service for the convenience and immediacy over going to stores that do printing. Her prize was $3,000.

Taking the third place prize of $2,000 was another Georgia College team, Adrienne Warren and Mark Lichtenwalner. They proposed starting a store in downtown Milledgeville that would feature locally grown food items and speciality international foods not found in the typical grocery store.

The event started with two teams each from six colleges in the area. The others were Mercer University, Fort Valley State University, Middle Georgia State College and Central Georgia Technical College.

A team of five judges selected the finalists, then a separate team chose the winners.

Nadia Osman, director of Revitalization & Business Initiatives for the College Hill Alliance, said the competition will be held annually. It is intended to spur entrepreneurship among young people. She said she was impressed with the wide range of ideas proposed and the research the students put into it.

“Our hope is that each of these teams, not matter if they placed or did not place, will come to us and seek support to make their business dream a reality,” she said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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