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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Student Entrepreneur Janay Brown Wins National Honor

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Old Dominion University student entrepreneur Janay Brown, founder of Full Belly Delights LLC, a gourmet bacon company, has been selected a winner in the fourth annual American Small Business Championship.

The award is presented by SCORE, the nation's largest network of volunteer business mentors, supported by a grant from Sam's Club. Brown is one of 102 winners in the United States and only three in Virginia.

A sophomore management major in ODU's Strome College of Business, Brown will receive a $1,000 Sam's Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event in Dallas, and SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year.

Brown and Fully Belly Delights are also eligible to win one of three additional $25,000 grand prizes, to be selected this summer by a panel of judges from among winners of the American Small Business Championship.

"Being one of the companies selected as a Small Business Championship winner in Virginia is a true honor," said Brown, who is from Haymarket, Virginia. "It's so amazing to think that out of all the small businesses in Virginia, Full Belly Delights got selected." Brown said her victory proves that everyone loves bacon. "Bacon makes people happy. I can't wait to go to Dallas to represent Old Dominion and ODU ENACTUS (the University's student club for social entrepreneurs)."

Jeff Tanner, dean of the Strome College of Business, said Brown adheres strongly to the principles of effective marketing, which he has studied for more than two decades.

"Janay is very market-oriented and listens to her customers. Paying attention to her customers' feedback has led her to modify her product line. This attention to customers will definitely take her places," Tanner said.

Brown is one of the student "regulars" at Old Dominion's Strome Entrepreneurial Center, the campus space created in 2014 to support and empower student entrepreneurs from concept to market for their business ideas.

Nancy Grden, the executive director of the Strome Center, is bursting with pride at Brown's recognition.

"Janay is a remarkable entrepreneur and leader here at our center," said Grden. "She has taken a high school class project to a company capable of significant growth. She reached out to the center literally on her first day as an ODU freshman, and is now also a mentor and inspiration to others."

Brown created the company as a senior high school project, and brought it with her to Old Dominion. Her bacon-filled treats are produced and shipped from a facility in Virginia Beach. Full Belly Delights' bacon truffle delights, bacon pops and bacon come in flavors like tiramisu, sriracha and caramel.

The business is getting attention on and off campus. Full Belly Delights has been featured in local media outlets. Last year, Brown was awarded one of three $3,000 prizes during Old Dominion's first annual Lion's Lair entrepreneurial competition, hosted by the Strome Center, Old Dominion University Alumni Association and Entsminger Entrepreneurial Fellows.

The empowerment of entrepreneurs such as Brown was the impetus behind the 2014 gift of $11 million from alumnus Mark Strome '78, which was used to create the Strome Entrepreneurial Center. The Strome Center aims to support University-affiliated entrepreneurs at every stage of the business lifecycle. There, students, faculty, staff and alumni receive coaching and build business connections.

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