Bailey McDaniel, an Owensboro Innovation Academy junior who is also enrolled in Owensboro Community & Technical College, has been named a finalist in the KY Pitch innovator and entrepreneur competition.

McDaniel, who is a part of OCTC’s Early College program, developed Cafe du Chat, a coffee house that features opportunities for cat and kitten adoption. She first came up with the idea as a sophomore for a group project in a government and economics class.

McDaniel is also a part of the Hager Scholars Program. Hager Scholars are encouraged to develop and pursue projects related to their career interests, according to OCTC.

While in OCTC communications Professor Bob Glenn’s basic public speaking course, McDaniel was encouraged to take part in KY Pitch as her project for the semester.

Glenn said the KY Pitch experience for students is “life and career-changing,” and competing in that format mimics a real-work scenario.

“Our students have consistently placed or earned top awards, based on their ideas,” Glenn said.

Angela Ash, OCTC faculty adviser for the Hager Scholars program, said McDaniel “couldn’t wait to get started” on the project.

So McDaniel’s Cafe du Chat idea was reinvigorated and submitted.

According to its website, KY Pitch is designed to empower innovation, diversity and growth in the commonwealth by allowing students in post-secondary colleges and universities to pitch a business idea to a large audience of investors, community leaders and the general public. There are two divisions of KY Pitch: the exploratory track for those with a concept, and the developed track for those with a more advanced plan or a current start-up.

McDaniel has been chosen as a finalist in the exploratory track division.

Finalists must send an 8-10 minute video summarizing their project and its importance, and a two-minute People’s Choice video. Winners are awarded prize money and business support.

McDaniel has always been a cat lover and said she thought of the idea for Cafe du Chat because she wanted to establish a business where people can meet with cats for adoption in a family-friendly environment.

“The ultimate goal is to enhance the community with a business that also helps reduce the number of cats in shelters,” McDaniel said.

She said this cat cafe is something she wants to pursue in the next few years.

After completing her associate degree at OCTC, she plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration or in entrepreneurship at either Kentucky Wesleyan College, Bellarmine University, the University of Louisville, Murray State University, Western Kentucky University or the University of Southern Indiana.

OCTC President Scott Williams said school officials are proud to have another finalist in KY Pitch.

“We want to give the community the opportunity to show their support for young entrepreneurship by voting for Bailey’s video,” Williams said.

McDaniel’s submission for the People’s Choice video is up on www.kypitch.com, and voting is open. Voting is limitless, and the video earning the most votes will receive $1,000.

Voting ends on April 9.

The 2021 KY Pitch Final Event will be virtual, with winners announced on April 16.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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