2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Mary Laci Motley, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Mary Laci Motley

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Workaholic with a love for meeting new people, traveling, sunsets and creative thinking.”

Fun fact about yourself: I play the fiddle.

Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina

High School: T.C. Roberson

Major: Business Administration

Minors: Information Systems and Entrepreneurship

Favorite Business Course: Entrepreneurship and Business Planning with Jim Kitchen

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • EATS2SEATS LLC, Founder and CEO
  • Late Night Bites, Co-Founder: Entrepreneurial business venture generating money for nonprofits by selling late night food outside of UNC dorms. Since inception, Late Night Bites has generated over $10K in profits for local charities focused on improving the lives of the homeless in Chapel Hill.
  • fIXtheIX, Co-Founder: A collaborative platform for Title IX activism. We believe creating a resource network that educates community members, connects survivors and holds administrators accountable is crucial for promoting effective change
  • Freelance Violinist: Hired to instruct students in basic Suzuki methods, perform in weddings, and play gigs with local bluegrass bands
  • UNC Women’s Club Soccer Team
  • Carolina Women in Business
  • Family Business Club


  • Robertson Scholars Leadership Program: full merit scholarship at UNC and Duke
  • Assured Admit to UNC Kenan-Flagler
  • Honors Carolina
  • Dean’s List
  • ACC InVenture Prize Competition: Selected and sponsored by UNC to compete against 15 ACC ventures in April 2021
  • Carolina Challenge Pitch Competition Fund Recipient
  • Record Breaker for UNC Kenan-Flagler Entrepreneurial Competition: ROI of 5,433% and over $8K in profits in two months
  • JNO Entrepreneurial Award Recipient: $5,000 funding
  • 1789 Venture Lab Fund Recipient: $2,500 funding
  • Launch Chapel Hill cohort member in accelerator focused on scaling North Carolina startups

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • BlipMe App, Community Director and User Growth Lead (Chapel Hill, 2017-18)
  • Habitat for Humanity, Logistics and Build Intern (New Orleans, summer 2018)
  • Summer Study in Corporate Finance and Social Innovation at the London School of Economics, and completed research funded by the Robertson Program on CSR in McDonald’s UK Franchises (London, summer 2019)

Where will you be working after graduation? EATS2SEATS LLC, which I founded and serve as CEO. EATS2SEATS provides fundraising opportunities for nonprofits by partnering with stadium concession businesses to meet staffing needs during sports and entertainment events. In the first operational year, E2S funded over $20K toward community development organizations and nonprofits, expanded to seven division-one venues and remained profitable.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? People matter. Humans are at the core of every business. Regardless of how advanced a company’s technology or optimization formulas seem, success relies on the people involved.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? When I decided to pursue business, I did not realize the relationship design thinking, imagination and innovation had with business. UNC Kenan-Flagler inspired me to pursue a path that engages all of these elements in an interconnected way.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? Given the dominance of tech in modern business, I would incorporate a greater fluency in technical software development skills. In my last few semesters, I’ve had exposure to the Compsci Department and SILS school at UNC and look forward to completing my Information Systems minor come May.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I founded my company, EATS2SEATS, after struggling to help a local nonprofit raise money. I wanted to expand access to fundraising options for smaller organizations. From affordable housing charities to healthcare nonprofits, the idea introduced me to an incredibly inspiring community of people dedicated to improving the lives of others. To hear how EATS2SEATS has enabled organizations to launch new projects, fund nonprofit missions, and help facilitate community improvement initiatives has been the most rewarding experience.

Which classmate do you most admire? Tristan Gardner is a classmate who graduated from UNC Kenan-Flagler in 2019. Tristan decided to abandon the traditional business school consulting and banking career paths and launch Triad Studios LLC. His passion and willingness to bet on himself and take a risk was rare among students focused on acquiring secure, structured jobs. I was inspired by his charisma, and following his lead, will pursue a non-traditional path after graduation.

Who would you most want to thank for your success?

My sister Anabell. She is a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa, Japan, where she is a Strategic Air Defense Officer. Not only is she an incredibly brave women (I have some pretty big shoes to fill), she cares deeply about others and makes it a point to empower those around her. We grew up battling it out on the soccer field, but I knew she always had my back — something that has never changed. I’m lucky to call my best friend and sister my hero. As a woman and entrepreneur, I navigate different situations than she does as a female in the military, but her drive and competitive nature challenge me to be the best version of myself. She is a fearless leader whose grit I hope to emulate one day. In addition to my sister, I am really lucky to have a brilliant mother who cares deeply about the world and people in it. I thank her as well.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Complete a JD/MBA
  • Launch or work for a company that leverages technology to improve the hospitality industry

What are your hobbies? Playing violin and guitar, hiking, skeet shooting, weight lifting, reading, and traveling.

What made Mary Laci such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Mary Laci is the most engaged, most passionate and most innovative student I have taught in my 10 years at Carolina. She entered UNC Kenan-Flagler, and my class on the “Foundations of Leadership” as part of the prestigious Assured Admit program, a group of extremely talented freshmen who are guaranteed admission to the business school. These students are so stellar that it is often difficult for someone to stand out, but Mary Laci effortlessly managed to do just that! In her four years, she has been part of the prestigious Robertson Scholars Leadership program, which allowed her to switch campuses and live and learn at Duke, studied in London, won multiple pitch competitions and entrepreneurial funding opportunities, designed and developed multiple websites, and has played in the nationally ranked UNC women’s club soccer team. Critically, she has done all this while founding and running two separate successful businesses!

In her work, Mary Laci embodies grit, resilience and a deep commitment to her values. In my course, I task students with creating a “disposable startup,” a team project that involves generating a business idea, pitching it to a set of judges, receiving funding and then using that funding to implement the business. Mary Laci’s team proposed to run a late-night food service (Late Night Bites) in which they obtained food from restaurants and sold them hours later to students outside their residence halls around the UNC campus. Not only did Mary Laci generate the idea on her own, but she quickly emerged as the leader of the team, negotiating 300 free burgers from the McDonald’s restaurant in Chapel Hill in exchange for advertising McDonald’s partnership with the food delivery service UberEats. Then, not satisfied with this success, convinced her team to contact every pizza parlor within a 30-mile radius of UNC and request pizza donations. She drove around for hours collecting the 27 donated pizzas, enabling her team to have another successful night of selling food. Her team earned a whopping $1,200 in three weeks, all with an initial investment of less than $100.

She capitalized on these experiences in this area, conducting an independent study with McDonalds UK and then founding Eats2Seats, a concession-stand food delivery service in 7 Division 1 venues. The best part: Mary Laci’s commitment to her personal value of community means that each of her ventures has a dual goal of supporting local non-profits, and she has already raised $25,000 for community enhancement efforts.

From my end, as her professor and her mentor, I have been constantly filled with pride, not only in her success but also in her growth and agility as she has had to pivot because of Covid-19.

It is clear that Mary Laci has made a real mark on me. She is a female leader who embodies the best of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Undergraduate Business Program. She is brilliant, yet humble, innovative, yet purposeful, and fiercely collaborative and kind. Her passion for learning and progress and her all-encompassing dedication to her contributions to the world, inspire those she works with. To know her is to want to be led by her.”

Shimul Melwani
Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior


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