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Cultivate a Startup

The goal of Cultivate.CAFLS is to enable undergraduate students in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS) to develop their own entrepreneurial experience. Student teams can secure seed funding to make their ideas for an innovative product a reality.

For More Information:
Contact Andrew Hurley

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Students do not need to wait until graduation to cultivate their business idea. Participation in Cultivate.CAFLS is open to all Clemson University undergraduate students, however each student team of five members maximum must have a strict majority of undergraduate students with a CAFLS major and must be mentored by a CAFLS faculty member. Benefits of becoming an entrepreneur at Clemson include opportunities to receive $30,000+ in funding, faculty mentorship, free legal consulting, IP protection, and network expansion.

Cultivate.CAFLS Requirements

Application Process

  1. Attend the Unleash Creativity Workshop on September 6 at 7:00pm to brainstorm ideas and receive guidance on developing a quick pitch. (P&A F149)
  2. Complete the online application by September 29 at 5:00pm to register for the Seed Funding Pitch.
  3. Compete in the Seed Funding Pitch on October 4 at 6:00pm for a chance to receive $500 in seed funding for your idea. (P&A F149)

If your team receives seed funding, your team will also:

  1. Attend the Ideation Expansion and Networking Seminar on October 25 at 6:00pm to receive guidance and strategies from mentors and experienced entrepreneurs.
  2. Create a 3-minute pitch and 30-second commercial.
  3. Participate in the Rehearsal Dinner on November 15 at 6:00pm to practice your pitch and receive feedback from faculty, staff, and students.
  4. Pitch your idea at the CAFLS Pitch Competition on January 19 at 6:00pm for a chance to win up to $2000 to develop your business idea.
  5. Participate in the CAFLS Entrepreneurs Meet & Greet as part of the Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership entrepreneurship week in March.

The winner of the Cultivate.CAFLS Pitch Competition will also pitch at the Launchpad Liftoff Pitch Competition in April. Other teams are also welcome to apply for the University-wide competition.

Additional Details:

  • Seed funding is managed by the CAFLS faculty mentor.
  • Teams must have a CAFLS faculty mentor before seed funding can be awarded. However, it is highly recommended that teams at least initiate discussion with potential faculty mentors before the Seed Funding Pitch.
  • Teams awarded seed funding are also required to submit their commercial and a short, written overview of their business idea to the office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs by January 31.


The culminating event of Cultivate.CAFLS is the Cultivate.CAFLS Pitch Competition where students pitch their business ideas to a panel of entrepreneurial experts.

Cultivate.CAFLS Winners 2023-2024

  • 1st Place & Audience Favorite, Checkerz Gluten-Free Baking Co.

    Checkerz Gluten-Free Baking Co.


    Team Member
    Deb Hutchins (Food, Nutrition, & Packaging Science)
    Merritt Meeks (Packaging Science)

    Imagine, birthdays without cupcakes, Thanksgiving without pie, Christmas without cookies, or weddings without cakes. This is the reality for the approximately 2 million Americans with celiac disease who cannot consume a crumb containing wheat, barely, or rye without short and long-term, significant adverse health effects. There are countless items that surprisingly contain wheat, therefore gluten-avoiding consumers must constantly check the ingredients for everything they eat. While some store-bought gluten-free options are available, they often lack balanced nutritional value and freshness.

    Checkerz is here to provide home-baked, gluten-free goods, already ingredient checked, for people in Clemson, the Tri-county area, and beyond. We bake both sweet and savory items like: cookies, cakes, biscuits, tortillas, cinnamon rolls, protein bars, muffins, donuts, and more. Find them on instagram @glutenfreecheckerz to coordinate orders and enjoy baked goods with confidence!

  • 1st Place, Swirly Sudz

    Swirly Sudz


    Team Member
    Ryan Barber (Packaging Science)

    In the consumer body soap market, there is a clear divide between liquid body wash and bar soap. Liquid body wash capitalizes on a convenience-based market, while bar soap targets the allergen-concerned consumer. Swirly Sudz caters to both of these markets by offering a new and unique way to use irritation and allergen-free bar soap.

    Thanks to a unique package design of a PET rigid twist dispenser and a high coefficient of friction label, Swirly Sudz allows consumers to grip bar soap with ease, prevents soap from falling off and sticking to the shower shelf, and provides consumers an easily traveled with bar soap–mess-free. This package design is particularly helpful for consumers with motor limitations such as arthritis or Parkinson's disease and has been arthritis tested and approved!

  • 3rd Place, PocketFuel



    Team Member
    Tionna Lipscomb (Packaging Science)

    Did you know that it takes pistachio shells three years of environmental exposure to become biodegradable? Additionally, traditional pistachio packaging is made completely of plastic with nowhere to put empty shells, forcing consumers to dig through a pouch of eaten and uneaten pistachios alike. Enter PocketFuel. PocketFuel features a 100% recyclable corrugate box with an adjustable divider to separate your empty shells from the rest of your pistachios. This portable product encourages a “leave no trace policy” by offering a place for empty shells. In addition, PocketFuel helps eliminate clean up time and is an environmentally friendly and portable treat!

students listening to speaker during Spiro Institute startup talk

Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership

The Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership helps Clemson students, faculty, staff, and alumni develop an entrepreneurial mindset, a way of thinking, motivated by visions of their personal leadership impacts and ownership. Personal fulfillment is at the heart of all our program objectives. We know that personal fulfillment is a prerequisite for enduring wealth creation

Visit the Spiro Institute's Website
CAFLS Advantage
CAFLS Advantage | 101 Barre Hall Clemson, SC 29634 864-656-3013