Finding innovative solutions to improve life after COVID-19 was a collective theme at Washington State University’s 19th Annual Business Plan Competition on Thursday, April 28. Four of the top five college teams have developed apps that address issues ranging from health care and scholarships to improving event parking – benefiting anyone with a mobile device.
The other team in the top five has developed a superior cheesecake business – to benefit the Pullman community.
Bloom walked away as the winner of the Herbert B. Jones Grand Prize of $15,000.
Developed by WSU senior engineers Zaya Tsengelmaa and Danielle Hurley, the app connects first-generation Washington State students with regional scholarship providers, increasing their chances of securing a local scholarship that has been overlooked by national scholarship websites.
The WSU Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) hosted the multi-stage hybrid competition where 110 student teams competed in three different leagues, representing nearly 297 college and high school students from Washington and Idaho. More than 120 entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders joined virtually and in person to judge the competition.
The Open League and High School League Venture teams participated in two all-virtual rounds, a scouting round and final presentations on Friday, April 22. WSU College League Venture teams competed virtually in two preliminary rounds where the final five teams qualified for the in-person final held at the WSU campus on Thursday, April 28.
Student teams pitched their business ideas and competed for cash and in-kind prizes totaling over $75,000.
The winning teams from all three leagues were invited to an awards banquet with keynote speaker Trey Lauderdale, serial entrepreneur and investor, immediately following the College League final round. In addition to Grand Prize winner Herbert B. Jones of the College League, two other teams won first place and grand prize money at the awards banquet.
The Ultropia team from the University of Washington took first place in the Open League. Led by co-founders Cody Birkland, Lloyd Dees and Amy Swanson, Ultropia is developing the first ultrasonic all-in-one washer and dryer that will help people with limited access to washing machines.
In the High School League, Perfect Pillow won first place. Sammamish High School students Corentin Ogier, Kelan Palmer and Chetan Sidhu are the co-founders of Perfect Pillow, a company that sells custom pillows.
Innovative solutions from diverse teams
The student enterprise teams participating in this year’s competition represented diverse academic and socio-economic backgrounds, disciplines, genders and ethnicities. The founding teams represented more than 20 different academic disciplines, including construction management, multimedia journalism, electrical engineering, hospitality, software engineering and many more. Additionally, the teams included many traditional and non-traditional first-generation students, student-athletes, and business students.
“I am continually impressed by the high caliber teams that enter the competition each year and the innovative ideas they showcase,” said Marie Mayes, Director of WSU CES. “I’m even more impressed with the diversity within our founding teams this year, many of whom come from outside of traditional business fields of study. Their success speaks to the value of business studies as a complement to a student’s main field of study. An entrepreneurial spirit prepares students for success in existing businesses and startups. »
Ideas presented by this diverse group of students included a portable, battery-powered ice pack, image processing services to assess damage to rental cars and homes, and a recycling shower using less than two gallons of water. water.
Professionals from academia and industry judged the teams based on a variety of factors, including pitch, value proposition, go-to-market strategy, investment analysis, financials, and more. Teams were also assessed on the merit of their business ideas and 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 Company, and Best Social Impact Company . Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU) sponsored a FinTech Merit Award, given to the team that pitched the most innovative idea in fintech. In the high school league, the Morning Star Foundation sponsored all prizes except for the grand prize, which is sponsored by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation and Idaho Capital Ventures.
The winning teams are:
WSU University League:
- Flowering, $15,000
An app that connects first-generation Washington State college students with regional scholarship providers, increasing their chances of securing local scholarships.
- DWN, $10,000
A social media platform that helps students find campus activities and events that help build friendships and connections.
- BOWEL CHECK, $7,000
An app that provides personalized health and fitness regimens based on food sensitivity.
- Syr Signature Creations, $4,000
A gourmet cheesecake company that offers fresh, preservative-free, special-order and sliced desserts in the Pullman area.
- SpotKEEP, $2,000
A peer-to-peer mobile app that connects residents of cities and crowded urban areas who need parking with those who have parking spaces for rent.
- Ultropia, $5,000
The first all-in-one ultrasonic washer and dryer to help people with limited access to washing machines.
High School League:
- Perfect Pillow, $5,000
A personalized pillow.
- Coals Lumber Co., $2,000
Professional firewood and tree felling company.
- Freeze on the go, $1,000
A portable, battery-powered ice pack.
- Frozen Games, $500
A unique culinary and social experience that combines frozen yogurt with casual or competitive games.
- The Jewelers Forge, $250
An online jewelry store that sells rings, earrings, and necklace pennants and takes customer enquiries.
Merit Award Winners:
- Best Written Plan: GUT CHECK, $2,500
- Best Presentation: Bloom, $2,500
- Best Tech Company: Tie Both Ways: DWN and RetroSpect, $1,250 each
- Best Social Impact Business: Bloom, $2,500
- BECU Best FinTech: Bloom, $5,000