The Center for Entrepreneurship in the UNL College of Business Administration hosted Entrepreneuring Days@UNL April 7-9 at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln, Nebraska. The event included two new venture competitions and the Distinguished Entrepreneur Awards Dinner. The competitions were conducted much like the television show “Shark Tank.” Students pitched their business ideas to a panel of professionals who served as judges for feedback and competed for funding.
This was the 18th
year for the UNL New Venture Competition which featured two categories – undergraduate and graduate categories. Students competed for the grand prize of $50,000 which must be used to fund the business pitched in the competition. They will also compete in the 28th
Global New Venture Competition on Thursday, April 9.
Thomas Frederick, a PhD student in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from Omaha, Nebraska, and Brock Smith, a 2013 MBA and JD graduate from Lincoln, Nebraska, won the competition for their construction site tool tracking business, T&B Innovations. The former fraternity brothers were approached by an Omaha construction company last year to help them solve this costly problem.
“We feel like our beta app could change the way companies manage their tools when they are on a construction site,” said Smith. “Working directly with a construction company has enabled us to improve our product and make it a value to the industry.”
Theresa Welbourne, FirsTier Banks Distinguished Professor of Business and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, was impressed with the business plans presented by the UNL students competing in the graduate and undergraduate divisions of the new venture competitions.
“I see this event as a learning event that gives students the opportunity to take what they are learning in the classroom and making it a practical experience,” she said. “Presenting before the judges is an invaluable experience they will be able to use and learn from. This event also brings together the business community as well as the university in a unique setting.”
The UNL New Venture Competition winners were:
• Grand Prize, $50,000 –
T&B Innovations, LLC, Thomas Frederick, Omaha, Nebraska, PhD student in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics; and Brock Smith, Lincoln, Neb., economics ’10 and Law/MBA ’13. T&B Innovations, LLC, is a hardware tracking device to track construction equipment.
• 1st Graduate Division, $2,000 –
Rodman Cattle Company, Tyler Rodman, Lexington, Nebraska, graduate student in applied science. Rodman Cattle Company is a 3,000 head capacity custom backgrounding feedyard located in north Missouri specializing in developing feeder calves for transfer to finish feedlots.
• 2nd Graduate Division, $1,500 –
Rodeo Analytics, Alex Adams, York, Nebraska, graduate student in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics. Rodeo Analytics will provide video analysis for competitors in rodeos and horse shows of their technical skills through image processing to help them earn more prize money.
• 3rd Graduate Division, $1,000 –
Fanlete, Christopher Aumueller, Lincoln, Nebraska, MBA student. Fanlete offers the first comprehensive social network specifically designed for college sports that allows users the opportunity to receive information and create content, thus being more connected.
• 1st Undergraduate Division, $2,000 –
Bongo Watersports, Grant Gehlen, Eagan, Minnesota, senior, business administration; Tess Merrill, Grand Island, Nebraska, senior, finance and management; Drew Bartek, Lincoln, Nebraska, senior, finance; and Adam Pieper, Norfolk, Nebraska, junior, management. Bongo Watersports will enhance the water sport experience by allowing you to enjoy music with a life jacket/vest with speakers and a waterproof spot to house your iPod/media device.
• 2nd Undergraduate Division, $1,500 –
BugEater Labs, Inc., Kelly Sturek, Las Vegas, Nevada, senior, management; Julianne Kopf, Falls City, Nebraska, senior, food science and technology; and Alec Wiese, Fremont, Nebraska. BugEater Labs, Inc., wants to change societal norms in terms of what we eat by offering crickets as way to enhance a protein rich diet.
• 3rd Undergraduate Division, $1,000 –
Chamomileon Herbal Tea, Janessa Onwiler, Panama, Nebraska, senior, management. Chamomileon Herbal Tea will grow and produce high quality tea which will be sold directly to consumers at farmer’s markets, grocery stores and on-line at a lower cost than imported tea.
• Thomas G. Guy Startup Team Award, $2,000
– Jack Trips, Courtney Sloan, Lincoln, Nebraska, senior, business administration, and Randi Miller, Oxford, Nebraska, senior, management. Jack Trips is a travel and event organization service which aims to redefine the way you travel within the Midwest.
The UNL Distinguished Entrepreneur Awards Dinners honored three entrepreneurs for their innovation, success and entrepreneurial spirit on April 8. The 2015 award winners were:
• Nebraska Distinguished Entrepreneur Award –
This year's award was given in memory of W. Patrick Clarke, co-founder and former co-chairman of NorthStar Financial Services. NorthStar is the umbrella organization that owns Orion Advisor Services LLC, CLS Investments LLC and Gemini Fund Services LLC. The three companies Clarke managed had a combined $120 billion in assets. His son Brett Clarke, vice president of branding and hypermedia, accepted the award in his father's honor.
• New Company Entrepreneur Awards –
Matt Medlock, CEO and founder of PaySAFE, was presented this award. With more than 20 years of banking experience, he built PaySAFE, an online closing table providing buyers and sellers a one-stop location to create, negotiate and close trades with financial protection, from no customers or transactions at the start of 2012 to having registered users in 32 states and 31 countries.
• Start-up Executive Award –
Bill Hipsher, co-founder of B2 Interactive, received this award. Hipsher founded B2 Interactive, a full-service digital marketing agency in Omaha, in 2012 with Brandon Taylor. He has more than 15 years of experience in web design and digital marketing and leads the digital marketing group at B2 Interactive.
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