On Friday, November 13th, STC and the UNM Innovation Academy held their second annual pitch competition for UNM students with promising ideas and technologies for start-up opportunities. The all-day event included an initial morning round of 11 pitches to judges held at the UNM Jackson Student Center and a final round and reception held in the evening in the Atrium at the UNM Science & Technology Park before an enthusiastic audience who voted for the top five presentations.
Students who entered the competition received free coaching and information on how to present and what’s involved in new company formation by attended the Innovation Academy’s StartUp School, its entrepreneurial literacy program, and seminars presented by STC on pitching and start-up topics that were focused on students. Judges for the morning session were Michael Cumbo, CEO of start-up Eta Diagnostics, Shawn Patrick, Director of Startup Santa Fe, Susan Cornelius, Principal of Accelerate2Solutions, and Mary Ortner, President & CEO of start-up Biophagy, Inc.
Presenters and presentations included the following:
- Gregory Allen (Freshman, Business) & Danielle Fox (Business)
Trade Square – a campus retail store for buying, selling or trading used goods
- Jacob Collison (Doctoral student, Civil Engineering)
a more accurate, robust, automated, and real-time technique for measuring near-actual reservoir or lake evaporation
- Trace Rucarean (Junior, Business)
Wyrd – a flipboard for online entertainment
- Kyle Guin (Freshman, Business)
a media company that concentrates on local business, entrepreneurs, and professional activities
- Nikoleta Hornackova (Freshman, Business)
a business for transporting unusual, special and unique products from Slovakia and Slavik-related countries to the US and back
- Nicolette Totschek (Sophomore, Business)
Mana5 fitness apparel – a clothing line designed from the combined ideas of 5 unique and very motivated individuals
- Rebekah Hartenberger (Freshman, Business)
Personal Attack Warning System
- Danielle Ebaugh (Sophomore, Business) & Fidel Gallegos (Junior, Business)
a modern funeral home that specializes in the celebration of life, a home-like venue, and “party” options
- Michael Sanchez (Sophomore, Business) & Robert Mendez (Senior, Business)
a community-based web platform that connects college students with in-demand technical skills to local businesses
- Zeke Chavez (Economics)
Crowd Tank – a web platform that allows users to put money behind problems or needs that a business could solve
- Alexandra Luna (Senior, Business)
FoodEze – an app that simplifies the lives of foodies with restricted palates
The top five winning pitches were
- Gregory Allen and Danielle Fox – Trade Square
- Jacob Collison – evaporation technology
- Rebekah Hartenberger – Personal Attack Warning System
- Zeke Chavez – Crowd Tank
- Alexandra Luna – FoodEze
The top five winners each received $2,500. Mentoring and support will continue to be available to all of the entrants as they move their projects forward to the next stage of development.
To read more about the event, see Kevin Robinson-Avila’s November 16, 2015 article, “A boost for startups,” from the Albuquerque Journal, reprinted below.
A boost for startups
By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer
Monday, November 16th, 2015 at 5:19pm
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nearly a dozen novel, innovative business ideas are a little closer to market following two pitch competitions and a weekend boot camp for aspiring entrepreneurs to begin building new businesses.
The events, which included cash and in-kind prizes to help select startups take their first steps forward, marked the kickoff of Global Entrepreneurship Week, an annual event aimed at celebrating technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in Albuquerque and other cities.
The activities began at the Matanza craft beer bar and restaurant in Nob Hill Friday afternoon, where seven women-run startups competed in InnovateHER, a national competition sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The event — aimed at recognizing new businesses that have a positive impact on women and families — included $3,500 in cash prizes, plus a chance for the first-place winner to progress to the next round against companies in other cities to earn a place in the final round in Washington, D.C., with $70,000 in cash prizes.
As Girls Grow, which makes toys with engineering concepts to encourage girls in problem-solving, won the first place prize with $2,000. Teeniors, which connects tech-savvy teens with senior citizens to help the elders manage electronic devices, took second place with $1,000. And Etkie, which produces and sells luxury jewelry handmade by Native American women, took third place with $500.
UNM’s Science and Technology Corp. also held an Elevator Pitch competition on Friday, pitting 11 students against one another in 90-second presentations for five cash prizes of $2,500 each. Winning pitches included ideas for new apps, an on-campus retail store for students to buy and trade used goods, a new method for measuring evaporation in reservoirs and lakes, and a wearable “Personal Attack Warning System” device for people to record threatening encounters and transmit them real-time to authorities for help.
Some winners said they would use the prizes to pursue their ideas, such as Rebekah Hartenberger, 18, who said she is working with the STC to patent her personal warning device. “Women in particular need something like this to provide more protection,” Hartenberger said.
Finally, more than a dozen teams of aspiring entrepreneurs participated in New Mexico’s first statewide “Startup Weekend,” with simultaneous events connected online in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. The events offered a three-day boot camp for people with startup ideas to work with like-minded individuals to test and develop their proposed products and services with mentoring and feedback from investors and experienced entrepreneurs.
Teams in Las Cruces and Albuquerque won locally with a new desalination technology and a novel service to help individuals correct errors on medical bills. A new Santa Fe company, ComboBox, won the statewide competition. The company is building an analytical app for people to send comments anonymously to businesses or organizations that will automatically be sorted out for companies to recognize common issues and trends.