FSU Jim Moran College professor, students pitch to ‘Shark Tank’ entrepreneurs during Power Forward Speaker Series 

Macy Maiocoo (left) and Madysen Howard (right), co-founders of Emcee.
Macy Maiocoo (left) and Madysen Howard (right), two Commercial Entrepreneurship students in the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship, pitched Emmcee, an event planning application that connects Greek Life event planners with vendors.

A Florida State University researcher and two students pitched their business ideas to “Shark Tank” veterans Barbara Corcoran and Robert Herjavec during the 10th annual Power Forward Speaker Series, co-sponsored by First Commerce and FSU.

Two commercial entrepreneurship students from the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship Madysen Howard and Macy Maiocco, pitched Emmcee, an event planning application that connects Greek Life event planners with vendors, including venues and other essential services.

“The chance to pitch our business to sharks was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we were honored to be the business chosen by the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship,” Howard said. “We dedicated hours to preparing and perfecting our pitch with professors and other seasoned professionals.

Maiocco said that when the moment came, they were nervous, but that Corcoran and Herjavec put them at ease immediately.


“They were supportive and eager to hear about our business,” Maiocco said. “Their invaluable feedback enriched not only our start-up journey but also left a profound and lasting impact on us.”

Jessica Ridgway Clayton, the Carol Avery Professor and director of Graduate Studies at the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship, represented faculty research in pitching to Corcoran and Herjavec.

Ridgway’s research focuses on developing products that break down barriers to breastfeeding and kangaroo care, particularly in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). She holds two pending patents, including the Clip to Care, a nursing bra clip system that she presented during the Power Forward Event.

As an advocate for mothers, Ridgway is passionate about simplifying breastfeeding and kangaroo care for NICU mothers. Her dedication stems from personal experience as a mom. To commemorate the 19 days her son, Boone, spent in the NICU, Ridgway partners with Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) for an annual donation drive from Feb. 1-19. This year marks the fifth annual drive, during which Ridgway and her family aim to raise funds for new rocking recliner chairs in TMH’s NICU.


“I loved how into it the crowd got, and I was able to feed off their energy,” Ridgway said. “I could tell they were invested in my pitch when I made Robert hold the towel under his chin and carry the 10-pound sack of potatoes to mimic the breastfeeding experience.”

She said her favorite moment was when Robert told her: “Best presentation ever!”

Established as Tallahassee’s largest annual business gathering, Power Forward attracts nearly 1,000 attendees each year. It provides a unique opportunity for local businesses, aspiring entrepreneurs, college students, and high school students to learn from well-known entrepreneurs. Previous speakers have included Spencer Rascoff, co-founder of Zillow; Chris Gardner, CEO of Happyness; Peter Diamandis, founder of the XPrize Foundation; Kevin O’Leary from “Shark Tank;” and Chip Conley from Airbnb.


In celebration of the 10th anniversary, First Commerce, in collaboration with FSU, introduced an addition to the event: the Power Pitch. This allowed campus entrepreneurs to solicit feedback from famous entrepreneurs. No money or contracts were awarded.

The Power Pitch was facilitated by Susan Fiorito, dean of the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship, an FSU faculty member since 1990 and a seasoned entrepreneur herself. She once owned multiple retail stores and a wholesale goods company. Fiorito has an extensive background in teaching and research at multiple universities and developed a module for the executive MBA program for the University of Stirling in Scotland.

To learn more about the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship, visit jimmorancollege.fsu.edu.

To learn more about the FSU Office of Research visit research.fsu.edu.

For more details about Ridgway Clayton’s fundraiser with TMH, visit TMH.org/Boone.