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PVCC EEC Student Wins Big in District's Big Pitch Competition

PVCC EEC Student Wins Big in District's Big Pitch Competition

As a registered nurse for 13 years, Marie Tice was itching to do something different and expand her career. In 2018, she became a certified in medical aesthetics focusing her work on the hot market of injectable services. But still, Tice had bigger dreams of becoming her own boss, and today she is well on her way to achieving just that, thanks in part to Paradise Valley Community College’s Small Business Start-Up (CCL) program and the school’s partnership with Fresh Start Women’s Foundation.

PVCC’s Small Business Start-Up CCL cohort was developed to support students and ensure they have the best foundation to start their own businesses. Tice was accepted into the Fresh Start cohort in Spring 2021 and began classes that fall, discovering the resources and support needed to drive her ideas forward and eventually win third place in Maricopa County Community College District’s Big Pitch competition. Under the direction of Dr. Dina Preston-Ortiz, Offsite Business Program Director the fast-track entrepreneurship program is designed to be completed within a year.

“I learned so much and everybody was phenomenal,” said Tice. “The program does a deep dive into everything from marketing and operations, funding and bootstrapping, computers and search engines, customer service and operations. It’s a wealth of information.”

Tice developed her business plan for Shine Bright Med Spa throughout the year, gaining valuable insight and coaching from Dr. Preston-Ortiz, and EEC Director Dr. Kishore Dash, and many others, who urged her to submit her idea to the Big Pitch competition, which spotlights aspiring student entrepreneurs attending one of the district colleges.

“Our wonderful partnership with Fresh Start Women’s Foundation provides student support and access to real-world business education and application,” said Dr. Preston-Ortiz. “When our students couple dreams and innovative ideas with education, they change the world one person at a time.”

This year’s MCCCD Big Pitch included a free, three-day bootcamp to help students prepare their business plans and pitch. The contest offered the largest prize pool in its history as well as the largest candidate pool with 30 students submitting throughout the 10 colleges (three students from each school). Tice placed third in the initial round and the top 10 moved on to a more intense round where she placed third overall.

“It’s unreal; a pipe dream is turning into a reality,” she said.

Tice’s medical spa business offers aesthetic services including Botox, derma-fillers, fat reduction, bio-stimulator, facials, chemical peels, micro-needling, PRP treatments and PDO threads. Her hope is to use her prize money to grow her boutique business, perhaps eventually making it a mobile business.

“I learned so much through this experience,” she reflected. “It was so much fun being in a room filled with like-minded people Just hearing how each of them were resolving different problems, formatting different things, overcoming different obstacles, made such an impact on me and my business plan.”

Fresh Start is currently recruiting for next year’s Small Business Start-Up cohort that begins in September and runs through May of 2023 at the Fresh Start Women's Resource Center. The courses are offered in a hybrid format, meeting in-person only once a week on Saturdays at the center. For more information, please contact

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