PULLMAN, Wash. – Over the weekend, WSU’s top 24 student venture teams displayed their innovative products and services at the 15th Annual Business Plan Competition hosted by the Carson College of Business, with the top team pulling in a cool $15,000.
In a separate competition on Friday, five of the region’s best high school venture teams also competed.
The top five college teams were awarded prize money, with the Semplice team taking home the $15,000 check. Semplice creates an environmentally sustainable sports drink from the dairy bi-product of the Greek yogurt industry. The top four high school teams received prize money as well, with Illusory Gear Box from Riverpoint Academy in Spokane winning first place and $5,000. Illusory Gear Box creates custom, wooden toy kits that children can assemble and interact with in a variety of ways.
The teams’ creative ventures included audio devices that can provide e-commerce-level data collection and analytics for brick and mortar stores, solutions to improve muscle problems from repetitive use injuries in non-professional athletes and ideas to reduce the labor costs required by retailers to stock shelves. Teams also presented potentially world-changing ideas such as a new digital thermometer to help increase the amount of milk pasteurization done by migrant cow herders in the developing world.
“I’ve always believed that a strong economy comes from the universities in that region,” said Chris Wood, founder of Dryland SA and TenX Strategies. “WSU’s Business Plan Competition embodies my belief by encouraging, facilitating and accelerating the startup environment. The university is working so hard today to help students bring research, innovation and ideas to the market place.”
Student entrepreneurship gains international momentum
“It was a record year for the WSU Business Plan Competition,” said Marie Mayes, director of the WSU Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. “We had 39 college venture teams and 27 high school teams enter the competition this year. I attribute this to our successful efforts at WSU to raise the profile of entrepreneurship. We want to be a university where every student with an interest in starting a venture, or being a part of something entrepreneurial, has an opportunity to pursue that during their time at WSU. I think the high level of entries reflect our positive momentum in that direction.”
Three teams from WSU’s international partner institutions joined WSU competitors: Cèsar Ritz Colleges Switzerland in Brig, Switzerland; Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology in Arusha, Tanzania; and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China.
A gala dinner Friday evening celebrated the high school track winners and included a keynote address from Scott Maloney, chief executive officer and co-founder of Bowtie. In his presentation, Maloney addressed the importance of student startup competitions in asking big questions to solve big problems.
“Competitions like this are absolutely critical to students being able to explore their passions and creative ideas” said Maloney. “Watching the teams compete head-to-head—it brings out the best in each of them.”
Winning teams announced
Academic and industry professionals judged teams on presentation, development of a solution for a customer problem, value proposition, competitive advantages, market and sales strategy, management, financials and investment analysis. The teams also were evaluated on the merit of their ideas and business plans. Winners were announced at Saturday’s awards luncheon.
In addition to sponsoring the grand prizes, the Herbert B. Jones Foundation also sponsors merit awards worth $2,500 each for best written plan, best presentation, best technology venture and best social impact business. These merit awards were presented to student venture teams at Saturday’s awards luncheon.
The winning teams are:
2. Chimeric Designs
4. Restore Robotics
5. Sense Service
6. One Co.
1. Illusory Gear Box
2. Titan Tactical Solutions
- Best Written Plan: Sense Service
- Best Presentation: Kulè
- Best Technology Venture: Restore Robotics
- Best Social Impact Business: Kulè
- Meagan Garrett, BrandVenture Consulting, 509-475-0028, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Marie Mayes, WSU Carson College of Business, 509-335-5628, email@example.com
- Sue McMurray, WSU Carson College of Business communications, 509-335-7578, firstname.lastname@example.org