Portal, a student startup from Brigham Young University developing a revolutionary way to open doors for wheelchair users, took home the $40,000 grand prize and the first place title at the 2018 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge at the University of Utah on April 7. The event featured the best collegiate entrepreneurs in Utah competing for $100,000 in cash and prizes.
The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is a statewide business model competition open to all university students in the state. It is managed by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business, and sponsored by Zions Bank.
“The best and most important part of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is to see the innovative and creative solutions that students develop to solve problems and improve the entrepreneurial space,” said Mark Pratt, a University of Utah student and marketing director of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. “It is wonderful to see how this event has grown and to be able to have the business competition held at Lassonde Studios. It was definitely a successful event.”
Additional prizes were awarded to the team with the best video, design, presentation, technology and more. Other big winners included ProLink with second place ($10,000), BayWatch Technologies with third place ($5,000), RhinoStasis with the Stoel Rives Best Technology Award ($5,000 in-kind), ScreenLog and Electrochrome LLC with the Emerging Entrepreneur Awards ($1,500 each), and Electrochrome LLC with the online voting People’s Choice Award ($1,000). The grand prize winner, Portal, also took home the Espiritu Best Design Award ($2,000 in-kind), and the Snell & Wilmer Intellectual Property Award ($5,000 in-kind). All top 20 teams walked away with a Top 20 Awards Packet, which included cash and prizes from Zions Bank, Workman Nyedeggar, Tanner Co. and Impact Hub. Participating teams also received mentorship from community experts and were judged by industry professionals.
Portal is developing a product that assists wheelchair users in opening doors. The device is attached to an existing automatic door followed by the user downloading an app, which opens the door if the user comes within a five-foot radius. The door will remain open until the user has left the range of the app. This product overcomes the major issue of automatic door opening buttons.
Morgen Glessing, CEO of Portal, created the idea after discussing everyday struggles with some handicap friends. He discovered that the handicap button used to enter doors was a big problem. Buttons would often be covered, hidden, out of use or not pressable due to the person’s disabilities. Not only would the button be hard to find but the door would not remain open long enough for the person to travel through. Glessing and his team worked closely with handicap friends to create a solution to this issue and Portal was created.
Portal plans to use the $40,000 grand prize from the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge to develop a new version of the product that can be manufactured to scale. This new product will help to meet a rise in demand for the product. They are currently in the beta phase and will launch in September.
After winning the prize Glessing gave some advice to entrepreneurs. He said, “Be able to focus in on one problem and keep your ear close to the ground with the people you are working with.” Portal was the winner of three additional prizes (listed below).
“I was so impressed with the level of competition this year,” said Brody King, a University of Utah student and chair of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. “It was a fantastic experience going from a competitor the last two years to running the UEC this year. I am very proud of the work that my team has put into running the event this year, and I think it was a tremendous success overall.”
Learn more about the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge at lassonde.utah.edu/uec.
Winners of the 2018 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge
Zions Cash Prize Awards:
- Grand Prize Award ($40,000): Portal
- Second Place ($10,000): ProLink
- Third Place ($5,000): BayWatch Technologies
- Emerging Entrepreneur 1 ($1,500): Electrochrome LLC
- Emerging Entrepreneur 2 ($1,500): ScreenLog
- Best Speed Pitch Award ($1,000): Portal
- People’s Choice Video Prize ($1,000): Electrochrome LLC
- Stoel Rives Best Technology Award ($5,000 value): RhinoStasis
- Snell & Wilmer Intellectual Property Award ($5,000 value): Portal
- Espiritu Best Design Award ($2,000 value): Portal
Additional Cash Prizes:
- The Actium Bootstrap Award ($1,000): Maple Canyon Adventures
- The Jones Waldo Peoples Choice Video Award ($1,000): Electrochrome LLC
Top 20 winners packet (All teams):
- Zions Bank – Top 20 Finalist Award ($500)
- Workman Nyedeggar – 1 hour IP consultation & patent search ($250)
- Tanner Co – 2 hours financial consultation ($500)
- Impact Hub – 50 percent off co-work membership ($100/month)
Utah Entrepreneur Challenge Top 20 Teams
Here are the top 20 teams in the 2018 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.
- AllyWatch (BYU) – The 21st century “LifeAlert” that revolutionizes the care of aging adults.
- Barolock (UofU) – Developing a new innovative hip implant device.
- BayWatch Technologies (BYU) – Building camera and software solutions for auto insurance claims.
- Burp Book (Dixie) – Creating baby products to make caring for infants easier.
- ColoClean (UofU) – Providing a comprehensive colonoscopy preparation kit.
- Easy Scholarship (SUU) – Helping international athletes obtain athletic scholarships and get recruited into U.S. universities.
- Electrochrome LLC (UofU) – Creating smart glass technology that allows you to control the tint of your glass at the touch of a button.
- KB Medical (UofU) – Creating an improved oncological surgical drain.
- Khione Outdoor Gear (BYU) – Creating a camping shelter that is used with a hammock.
- Maple Canyon Adventures (Snow) – Guided rock climbing tours in Maple Canyon.
- Mentionables (BYU) – A lingerie website dedicated to model-free photos, classy styles and pretty prices.
- Nani Swimwear (USU) – Offering affordable, trendy women’s swimsuits with more coverage.
- Other Half App (Westminster) – A new social app that encourages users to be social with their friends both online and in real life.
- Portal (BYU) – Revolutionizing the way doors open for wheelchair users.
- ProLink (UVU) – Creating the LinkedIn of gaming.
- RhinoStasis (Weber) – Developing an effective, easy-to-use, chemically treated nasal insert that will help stop nosebleeds.
- ScreenLog (SLCC) – Developing a tool to help streamline communication between client and web developers.
- SonoShield (UofU) – Improving the durability of ultrasound probes.
- Southrail (UofU) – Providing a higher-speed rail service between neighboring cities.
- Zero Stitch (SUU) – Developing an adhesive bandage to replace stitches for at-home use.
About the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute
The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is a nationally ranked hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Utah and an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business. The first programs were offered in 2001, through the vision and support of Pierre Lassonde, an alumnus of the Eccles School and successful mining entrepreneur. The institute now provides opportunities for thousands of students to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation. Programs include workshops, networking events, business-plan competitions, startup support, innovation programs, graduate seminars, scholarships, community outreach and more. All programs are open to students from any academic major or background. The Lassonde Institute also manages the Lassonde Studios, a new five-story innovation space and housing facility for all students. Learn more at lassonde.utah.edu.