Johnston County

Business plan wins $7,000 prize

Brandon Holder of Clayton in High Point University’s Cottrell Hall.
Brandon Holder of Clayton in High Point University’s Cottrell Hall. HIGH POINT UNIVERSITY

Brandon Holder of Clayton won first place in High Point University’s Business Plan Competition, winning $7,000 for his company, Water the World.

Finalists for the award had to submit a business plan and present it to a panel of judges made up of local business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors. The panel judged the business plans on a number of criteria, including financial feasibility, uniqueness of the product or service and clarity of the business model.

Holder has invented a water-filtration system for drinking and agriculture around the world. His invention consists of a pump connected to a battery that can be turned on at the flip of a switch. Once on, the product distributes water at 5.5 gallons per minute.

Some pumps have an attachment for clean drinking water. The attachment reduces viruses, bacteria, cysts and protozoa by 99.99 percent, making virtually any water clean. It has a lifespan of more than a decade and uses gravity to filter water, making it self-sustainable.

The inspiration for Water the World came from time Holder spent in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there. He noticed that the lack of irrigation was hampering gardens. Hunger and malnutrition were also prevalent.

“After the trip, I wanted to come home and help with this problem, so I kept thinking of what to do,” Holder said. “One morning in July I woke up with the Bible verse Isaiah 12:3 on my mind. When I looked it up in the Bible, it said, ‘With joy you will draw up waters from the wells of salvation.’ This gave me chills, and I knew I had to do something about the water-related issues they face in Haiti.”

The $7,000 award from High Point University will aid that mission, Holder said. “Winning this money is amazing for my organization,” he said. “This will help provide clean drinking water to thousands of people globally.”

High Point University “has been instrumental in everything that Water the World has become, and I am very thankful to attend this university,” he said. “At the end of the day, when I am able to help people, it is a good day.”

“I see this as a calling,” Holder said. “When you meet people from the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and see how bad it is for them, you have a burning desire to help in some way.”

In October 2015, Janet Smith, associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Asheboro, took an interest in Holder’s invention. “I wanted to help get Brandon’s invention off of the ground, so I bought the first Water the World,” she said Smith. “I bought this so First Baptist Church can donate it to a developing country that is in need of something like this, and I also wanted to raise awareness about Water the World in our church and community.

“Brandon is truly an inspiration. I was drawn to his heart and determination for this project. A lot of people’s lives are going to be changed for the better because of this.”

“I have my product, business model and clientele, so now I need to start working with people who share the same goal as I do – giving people around the world clean water,” Holder said Holder. “I am also focusing on saturating the country of Haiti with my product. This will eliminate food insecurity, malnutrition and waterborne illnesses for our brothers and sisters in Haiti. I am fully committed to jumping feet first into this project and doing whatever it takes to help make the world better for everyone through Water the World.”

Chris Henson, chief operating office for BB&T, was among the judges for the High Point competition. “It is great to see youth that have ideas and are given the opportunity to take that idea and run with it,” he said. “Many students don’t get this opportunity, and I am happy to be involved and judge something like this. Clearly each of these students put in a lot of hard work and they did a great job.”

“I am very proud of the students that participated in the competition,” said Kathy Elliott, assistant professor and director of entrepreneurship at HPU. “Each student had a topnotch business plan and presented it well. I am glad that we as a university are able to support them in their endeavors and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of them and their business plans.”