Andrea Northup, founder of Elroi & Men, won the seventh annual Canyon Challenge at Grand Canyon University on Wednesday.

Canyon Challenge is GCU’s signature business competition and is patterned after ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Each finalist team presented its business proposal for approximately five minutes to a panel of five judges, followed by a Q&A. The Canyon Challenge is designed to spark creative thinking with entrepreneurial ideas that fill gaps in the marketplace.

Northup, a GCU graduate who earned her Business Management degree in April 2017,  started working as a sponsor relations coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona shortly after graduation. Inspired by Habitat’s “it’s a hand up, not a handout” spirit, Northup wanted to start a business that would help people escape poverty and hopelessness. 

She chose the Lakota American Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  

Northup had witnessed GCU’s quest to provide jobs to residents of west Phoenix, and when she learned of the Lakotas, she decided to try to help them by starting Elroi & Men, which markets bowties produced entirely by members of the tribe. It’s Conscious Capitalism, the core of Grand Canyon University’s business curriculum, at its best.

Why Elroi? It’s found only once in the Bible, in Genesis 16. A distressed woman named Hagar referred to God as “El Roi” after He guided her out of the desert and helped her find her purpose. It means “the God who sees.”

And why bowties? It’s an offshoot of Northup’s skill as a seamstress – a coat she made placed in the top 10 in the Make It with Wool national sewing competition – and is something that can be stitched together easily.

The five finalists for the Canyon Challenge were:

GCU just announced the finalists – would you consider a news brief announcing the student businesses that will be competing for $10,000 in seed money? Here are their names and a very quick description of each (happy to provide more info if you’d like it):

Elroi & Men: “Bowties with purpose”

Prophet Insight: “Location-based data analysis with Watson AI for small and medium-sized businesses”

CheerFiz: “Energy drinks for Cheer teams”

Lux Board Rentals: “Electric Long board and Scooter rentals”

Thoreson Watches: “Watches that give time”