Drishti Bhatia ’26 and Winston Gasch ’26 Take Grand Prize for PlatePlan in College’s Business Pitch Competition

image of two Rhodes College students holding giant check
Winston Gasch ’26 and Drishti Bhatia ’26

Economics and mathematics major Drishti Bhatia ’26 presented the winning pitch at the recent Rhodes College Venture Challenge, gaining the $15,000 Grand Prize to help launch PlatePlan, which she co-founded with business major Winston Gasch ’26.

“PlatePlan is a company that we fully believe is going to revolutionize the dining industry through efficiency,” said Bhatia whose product addresses food waste and allows real-time consumer feedback between consumers and dining companies.

Computer science major Kyla Bursey ’24 was selected People’s Choice Award winner, based on votes by the audience. Her media and engagement brand called Hikylabur promotes self-care and a healthy work/life balance.

image of Rhodes College student giving a presentation
Kyla Bursey ’24 making her business pitch

The panel of judges was made up of intellectual property law Bill Hulsey ’77 (Grand Prize sponsor); Dev Varma ’11, CIO of Rhizome Group; and Audrey Willis, co-founder of Code Crew. “Speaking on behalf of all the judges, this was a really hard decision, and there were a lot of great pitches,” said Varma who presented the Grand Prize to Bhatia and Gasch.

The Rhodes College Venture Challenge, a dynamic business pitch competition designed to empower aspiring student entrepreneurs, took place April 25 on campus and is a culmination of entrepreneurship initiatives relaunched at the college this year. Other semi-finalists were Khristian Arnold ’26, Phuong Tran ’27, Nolan Colladay ‘25, and Sofonias Semie ’26.

The semi-finalists were narrowed down to finalists by virtual panel of judges including Lia Winter, founder and CEO of Winter Innovations medical device company; Jim Golden ’85, co-founder of CommonTask.AI; and Robert Jetmundsen ’77, chairman of Worthscape, LLC.  It is expected that many of Rhodes College Venture Challenge semi-finalists and applicants will continue to build their business ideas in the future.