UNA Pressroom

Winners Announced In Annual Shoals Idea Audition

Nov. 12, 2020

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at media@una.edu, 256.765.4392 or 256.606.2033

Nov. 12, 2019

FLORENCE, AL - Kevin Robinson and Richard Bennett, representing Bless Yr Heart Music Production Company in Sheffield, received $5,000 for the winning entry in the entrepreneurship competition that took place Nov. 10 on the University of North Alabama East campus.

Robinson and Bennett pitched the idea for a live concert entertainment program that will be professionally shot and recorded in Sheffield.

"We've recognized the utter lack that streaming technology has provided the live music world, as our own artists in this town stay unemployed," said Robinson. "We believe that there is a better alternative to keep those musicians employed and be able to present the wealth of music of the Shoals to the world."

Bless Yr Heart Music Production Company has recently received its first national ad placement, and Robinson and Bennett hope to create more live music productions from the stage they have dubbed "Live from Nashville Ave."

The Shoals Idea Audition is an annual event sponsored by Innovation Sponsors Bank Independent, UNA College of Business, and the Shoals Economic Development Authority. For seven years, this event has taken place under the auspices of Shoals Shift, a creative effort through the Shoals Business Incubator, the University of North Alabama, and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce. The event is designed to foster new businesses, help entrepreneurs polish their presentations, and introduce community leaders who might be instrumental in helping make their ideas a reality. The top scoring ideas were awarded a $5,000 cash prize, with $2,500 and $1,000 to second and third-place winners, respectively.

Ten competitors presented their ideas to a preliminary round of judges on Nov. 9. These presentations were gleaned down to three, each of whom made their pitch in person in a final round to judges Nov. 10. The presentations were streamed from UNA's East Campus via Facebook Live to ensure proper social distancing procedures could be observed.

This year's second place winner was Micah Johnson, who has created a modern education system focused on enabling more people to engage in software development. Emily Butler, founder of More Than the Reel online platform, took home third place.

Shoals Shift, the creative force that developed the Idea Audition format, has other opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their conception. Lift Off Shoals is a partnership between the UNA College of Business, the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, and the Shoals Business Incubator. Startups are invited to compete for funds in a regional challenge based on the successful statewide Alabama Launchpad challenge and the winners could receive a share of $25,000. The Launchpad event is scheduled for March 11, 2021; more information can be found at www.liftoffshoals.com.

About The University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Sciences, and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. Occupying a 130-acre campus in a residential section of Florence, Alabama, UNA is located within a four-city area that also includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. UNA Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I's ASUN Big South Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/