MSF students won the UGA Stock Pitch Competition

MSF students win UGA stock pitch competition

A team of three Master of Science in Finance students won the eighth annual stock pitch competition hosted by the UGA Terry College of Business on February 25. Two other MSF teams finished in the top 12 of the event, which was also attended by teams from the University of Indiana, University of Texas, University of Georgia and University of Virginia, among others.

James Donnelly, Marek Hornak, Ethan Okaty and Grant Stanish made up the winning University of Florida team. They pitched video streaming software platform Roku and argued it was poised for growth in developing markets. The team won a $3,000 prize for their first-place finish.  

“Winning obviously felt really good, and it was a moment of recognition for all our hard work,” Hornak said. “But what felt even better was the feedback we received from our mentors, judges, and fellow contestants. It increased our confidence as investors that we were able to make a convincing argument and defend that position against other quality pitches. It also felt great to be able to share the good news with everyone who helped us, especially since UF has not won this competition since 2018.”

From left: Makayla Ho, Jack Dellenger, Chris Fuentes, Chloe Johnson.

Two other MSF teams finished in the final 12 of the competition. One team was made up of Jonathan Kang, Vinayak Kawatra, Johnathan McCary and Alejandro Salinas, and the other team was made up of Chloe Johnson, Jack Dellenger, Makayla Ho, and Chris Fuentes.

For the winning team of Donnelly, Hornak, Okaty and Stanish, preparation started three months before the event when they decided to pitch Roku. They began to research trends in the streaming industry. They reached out to people who were skeptical about the stock to understand their reasons. They even went to Gainesville retailers like Target, Best Buy and Walmart to learn about Roku’s supply chain from sales representatives.

One important part of the process was leaning on UF and MSF alumni around the world for help. They met with MSF alumni James Goyer and Nick Appelo, among many others, to nitpick their presentation and find any holes in their pitch.

The many late nights and countless hours of preparation paid off with the win.

“I told my close friends this is my proudest moment, not because of the money or even the hard work, but because of the validation in a field I want to make a career in,” Stanish said. “This was definitive proof that me and my team have great skill, and that UF and the MSF program is very strong. It meant that if we just get put in front of the decision makers in a non-bias manner, we can prove our value is greatly higher than people thought.”