Student startup teams compete for $75,000 at WSU’s 17th annual Business Plan Competition

Appiture team members holding a giant check as they stand alongside dean and directors associated with the event.
Chip Hunter (from left), dean of Carson College of Business, with Appiture team members Thomas Goble and Lars Neuenschwander at the Business Plan Competition awards ceremony. Also pictured are Marie Mayes, Center for Entrepreneurial Studies director, and Mike Bauer, director of Herbert B. Jones Foundation.

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies hosted its annual Business Plan Competition on Thursday, April 25. More than 30 student venture teams, representing nearly 150 students, presented their business ideas and competed for cash and in-kind prizes totaling more than $75,000.

The top six teams in the College League were awarded prize money with Appiture winning $15,000 for first place. Appiture created a device and app pairing system that can screen for Autism Spectrum Disorders, allowing earlier detection and enabling children to receive intervention services at a younger age.

The top four high school teams also received prize money with Videsse winning $5,000 for first place. Videsse is Pullman’s first video production company and focuses on making promotional videos.

Additionally, the top team in the open league, HAYTECH, won $5,000. HAYTECH saves hay producers time and money with precision agriculture methods for hay bailing.

“Our judges and staff were so inspired by the caliber of ideas presented to the Business Plan Competition this year,” said Marie Mayes, CES director. “The competition continues to grow every year. We had a record 42 high school teams apply to the screening round this year. We had strong numbers in the college and open leagues as well. And as the competition grows, the quality of ideas they generate continues to impress us.”

Solutions for real-world problems

The full-day event included a presentation and final round of competition, a trade show where student teams displayed their product and service ideas, and an awards dinner with a key note address given by Lee Rhodes, founder of glassybaby, a Seattle company that creates hand-blown glass candle holders and drinking glasses.

Rhodes spoke about the power of being a social entrepreneur and the impact a business can have when it gives back in purposeful ways to the communities it serves. She mentioned how inspired she was by the number of student teams working on projects that would have a tangible impact on problems that their communities, and our world, are facing today.

Highlights included a device for a less-invasive method for detecting pancreatic cancer, a new way of growing an environmentally sustainable coral, a web platform for cryptocurrency trading, pet wellness supplements, a device to organize IV lines in medical environments, and medical devices to assist those with impaired or lost hand function.

Winning Teams Announced

Academic and industry professionals judged teams based on:

  • Development of a solution for a customer problem
  • Value proposition
  • Competitive advantages
  • Market and sales strategy
  • Management
  • Financials
  • Investment analysis

The teams also were evaluated on the merit of their ideas and business plans.

In addition to sponsoring the grand prizes, the Herbert B. Jones Foundation sponsored merit awards worth $2,500 each for best written plan, best presentation, best technology venture and best social impact business. Boeing Employees Credit Union sponsored a FinTech merit prize, awarded to the team that presented the most innovative idea in the financial technology space.

In addition, a new merit prize was added this year for exemplary ideas in Ag Innovation. The $5,000 prize is sponsored by KT Farms and NW Biologic.

The first ever BPC Trade Show prompted the creation of two additional $5,000 merit prizes; the Best Trade Show Team and the Most Outgoing Engineer, sponsored by Larry Gross, president of Relay Application Innovation Inc.

All awards were announced at Thursday’s gala dinner.

The winning teams are:

WSU College:

  1. Appiture
    Created a device and app pairing system that can screen for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  2. Crimson Medical Solutions
    Created a noninvasive modular organization system for intravenous lines in the medical environment.
  3. Hitchhiker Carpooling
    Created a ridesharing app for college students traveling long distances.
  4. All Aboard
    Created an Airbnb model for personal boat sharing that allows for customizable experiences on the water.
  5. Obsidian Bot
    Created a website that enables cryptocurrency traders to automate their trading strategies.
  6. Honorable Mention: BioMech
    Building a Grip Glove that improves dexterity and grip strength for people with impaired hand function.

Open League:

    Saves hay producers time and money with precision agriculture methods for hay bailing.

High School League:

  1. Videsse
    Pullman’s first video production company. Focuses on making promotional videos.
  2. Chloe’s Lavender
    Makes and sells artisanal lavender soaps and lotions online and at local farmer’s markets.
  3. Vintage Soul Leather Co.
    Designs and creates handmade leather earrings.
  4. The Bent Carrot
    Is working to create a smoothie bar that utilizes the food that would be thrown away because of imperfect looks but is otherwise fine to eat.
  5. The Paint Box
    Has created a monthly art subscription box that focuses on 2D and ceramic art.

Merit Prize Winners:

  • Best Written Plan: Appiture
  • Best Presentation: Appiture
  • Best Technology Venture: All Aboard
  • Best Social Impact Business: DevCo
  • Best FinTech: Obsidian Bot
  • Ag Innovation Prize: HAYTECH
  • Best Trade Show Prize: Neuroche Meditation
  • Most Outgoing Engineer: Shawyon Jaffarbhoy
  • M2Up and Coming: Dante’s Deals

Media Contacts:

  • Meagan Garrett, consultant, Brand Venture Consulting, 509-475-0028,
  • Marie Mayes, director, Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, WSU Carson College of Business, 509-335-5628,
  • Sue McMurray, assistant director of communications, WSU Carson College of Business, 509-335-7578,

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