Published on 03/28/19

Herbal coffee supplement Rally Coffee takes top prize at UGA’s 2019 FABricate entrepreneurial competition

By Merritt Melancon

A two-woman team, Herb Girls Athens, won the $2,500 grand prize at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ FABricate entrepreneurs’ contest.

In the final pitch contest held on March 27 at UGA’s Student Center for Entrepreneurship, called “Studio 225,” CAES agribusiness master’s degree student Eileen Schaffer and psychology student Amy Wright wowed the judges with their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory coffee supplement. The powder, Rally Coffee, is designed to be mixed into brewed coffee to give extra health benefits and is spiked with cinnamon, cardamom and chicory for added flavor.

“Not only did we have high-quality ideas presented, but what really excited me was the diversity of the products,” said Doug Bailey, CAES assistant dean for academic affairs. “Where else are you going to find a barbecue sauce, an herbal supplement, a physical replacement for fungicides, new makeup formulas and a way to process poultry litter into fertilizer. It really shows the depth and breadth of the interests and the imaginations of our students in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.”

Since 2017, students from CAES have presented their best ideas for world-changing technologies, innovative business plans and market-disrupting food products during the college’s annual FABricate entrepreneurship challenge.

This year’s competitors were given the option of taking a new business development seminar class as they worked to refine their product concepts and business plans. Vanessa Shonkwiler, an applied economist and business development specialist who works with the CAES Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, guided students through the process of bringing their ideas to fruition.

Cash prizes were awarded to the Herb Girls and to second place winner Beer-BQ Sauce for their line of Athens-made beer-infused barbecue sauces, Classic City Sauces. The Beer-BQ team was made up of two agribusiness undergraduate students, Blake Carter and Tristan Smith, and mechanical engineering undergraduate Coleman Purcell.

In all, five product development teams made it to the final pitch contest. The teams and their products include:

  • Sydney Mai, an environmental chemistry undergraduate, and Xiao Tan, a landscape architecture undergraduate, developed Flower-ly Lips, Fairy’s Secret, a plant-based cosmetics line meant to be safe for children.
  • Davis Verner, a turfgrass management undergraduate, McCoy Savage and Luke Kosko, both agribusiness master’s degree students, developed Agrow-Fert, a process to mine phosphorus from poultry litter to be used in fertilizer.
  • Annakay Abrahams, a doctoral student studying plant pathology, developed SporAvert, a water-permeable membrane that can be used to cover high-value crops to prevent the spread of fungal diseases.

For more about these businesses visit

This year’s judges were Keith Kelly, owner of Farmview Market in Madison, Georgia, Caroline Hofland, CEO of CBH International, and Jim Flannery of Four Athens and the UGA Idea Accelerator.

Keith and Pam Kelly, Caroline Hofland, the UGA Entrepreneurship Program and the CAES Office of Academic Affairs sponsored the contest.

For more information about FABricate, visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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