A student startup providing an online service to help people secure green cards won first place and the $40,000 grand prize at the annual Utah Entrepreneur Challenge at the University of Utah tonight.
“Winning the $40,000 is critical to helping us reach our first milestone of launching our website by this summer,” said Sam Stoddard, a team member of SimpleCitizen and student at Brigham Young University. “The event provides each team with a mentor. Our mentor was amazing and gave us input and advice that will be crucial to helping SimpleCitizen be successful.”
The statewide, business-plan competition is hosted by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah and sponsored by Zions Bank. The grand prize was part of more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes awarded to help the students launch their businesses. More than 200 teams competed in the annual competition with business ideas ranging from medical devices and aluminum skateboard decks to hydroponic farming. (See team videos here.)
“Our goal is to encourage creativity and provide an opportunity for these bright students to create companies that will shape the future of business and economy in Utah,” said Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank, who attended the award ceremony and presented the grand prize.
Other event sponsors include: Actium Partners, Beehive Startups, Deloitte, Flint Design, Impact Hub, Stoel Rives and USTAR.
Four University of Utah teams made it to the final eight and won $1,000 apiece. Those teams included: Blyncsy, S3 Innovative Glaucoma Solutions, Scott Composites and Light Line Catheter.
“The University of Utah is one of the best schools in the nation for student entrepreneurs,” said Dane Money, a co-chair of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge and a business student at the University of Utah. “There are so many opportunities for students to create and launch their ideas here.”
The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is one of many business-plan competitions provided by the University of Utah, which is currently ranked as the No. 2 school in the nation for cash awarded to student entrepreneurs, according to the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine. Last year, the University of Utah provided $744,550 in prizes to student entrepreneurs.
“The mentorship and prize money are critical to the development of new student businesses,” said Troy D’Ambrosio, executive director of the Lassonde Institute, a division of the David Eccles School of Business.
The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is part of a student-run series of competitions called the Utah Entrepreneur Series. They began with Innovation Tournaments in the fall followed by Opportunity Quest competitions at universities across the state. The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is the final event in the series.
Download an image of the winning team, SimpleCitizen, at bit.ly/1OLpPNG. Please credit the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.
UEC Award Winners
- Grand Prize ($40,000, sponsored by Zions Bank) – SimpleCitizen, Brigham Young University.
- Best Presentation ($5,000, sponsored by Zions Bank) – KiLife Tech, Brigham Young University.
- Best Tabling ($1,000, sponsored by Zions Bank) – KiLife Tech, Brigham Young University.
- Emerging Entrepreneur ($1,000, sponsored by Zions Bank) – LuerLite, University of Utah.
- Emerging Entrepreneur ($1,000, sponsored by Zions Bank) – Paper Trail, Brigham Young University.
- Best Speed Pitch ($1,000, sponsored by Zions Bank) – KiLife Tech, Brigham Young University.
- Best Video ($2,500, sponsored by Zions Bank) – KiLife Tech, Brigham Young University.
- People’s Choice Award, Video ($1,000, sponsored by USTAR) – Accidental Gentleman, Dixie State University.
- Best Technology ($5,000, sponsored by Stoel Rives) – Align Skate Decks, Utah State University.
- Deloitte Services Prize ($3,000 in-kind, sponsored by Deloitte) – SimpleCitizen, Brigham Young University.
- Best Product ($1,000, sponsored by Flint Design) – KiLife Tech, Brigham Young University.
- Social Impact Award ($1,000 in-kind, sponsored by Impact Hub) – Align Skate Decks, Rental On Me, SimpleCitizen, Urban Yield.
- Beehive Startup Award (in-kind, sponsored by Beehive Startups) – Align Skate Decks.
- Top-20 Award ($500 each, sponsored by Zions Bank) – See list below.
- Top-8 Award ($1,000, sponsored by Zions Bank; $1,000 each in-kind, sponsored by Deloitte) – Align Skate Decks, Blyncy, KiLife Tech, Light Line Catheter, S3 Innovative Glaucoma Solutions, Scott Composites, SimpleCitizen, Urban Yield.
- Bootstrap Award ($2,500, sponsored by Actium Partners) – Align Skate Decks.
UEC Top-20 Team Descriptions
- Accidental Gentlemen (Dixie State University) – Provides opportunity for self-expression through customizable ties and neckwear.
- Align Skate Decks (Utah State University) – Aluminum skateboard decks that have longer life span and unique look.
- Blyncsy (University of Utah) – Device that tracks electronic signals to track traffic and movement of cities on a macro scale, helping you get where you need to go faster.
- Brighter House Electric, LLC (Weber State University) – Economical and energy-friendly light-bulb-replacement service for your home.
- Candor (Snow College) – Mobile app dedicated to connecting college students stuck in their apartment contracts with those who want to buy them.
- Haedrian (Brigham Young University) – Mobile app that connects investors with investees in developing countries to help microfinance companies make informed investments.
- Hungry Media, LLC (Westminster College) – Student owned digital-content production company providing video production, photography and graphic design.
- KiLife Tech (Brigham Young University) –Wearable child-safety device that helps track children in public or crowded places.
- Light Line (University of Utah) – Catheter that uses high-intensity laser to kill infection-causing microorganisms and prevent infections caused by catheter use.
- Luerlite (University of Utah) – Medical device using UV-C technology to help eliminate bloodstream infections.
- Paper Trail (Brigham Young University) – Website and mobile app used to track financial and accounting records without the mess of physical receipts and records.
- Pura (Utah Valley University) – Smart-home company that marries home air fresheners with a mobile app.
- Rental On Me (Utah State University) – Peer-to-peer online marketplace that allows users to make money by sharing items in their community.
- S3 Innovative Glaucoma Solution (University of Utah) – Implantable medical device used to prevent vision loss in glaucoma.
- SimpleCitizen (Brigham Young University) – Online do-it-yourself solution for people who need to file for a green card or other basic immigration forms.
- Swap Top (Southern Utah University) – Patented customizable shoe design to fit unique style of users on a day-to-day basis.
- The Menu (Salt Lake Community College) – Mobile application service that lets users search for specific menu items rather than restaurants.
- The Scott Composites NC Brick Tie (University of Utah) – Brick-tie device that makes brick a more economical and energy-efficient way of building.
- Urban Yield (Westminster College) – Utah’s first vertical hydroponic farm, growing organic and GMO free leafy greens.
- Vykon Technologies LLC (Brigham Young University) – Focused on developing low-cost diagnostic solutions for movement disorders.
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 and successful mining entrepreneur. The institute now provides engagement opportunities for thousands of students to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation. Programs include graduate seminars, business plan competitions, startup support, innovation programs, scholarships, community outreach and more. All programs are open to students from any academic major or background. The Lassonde Institute is also building a new facility for student entrepreneurs due to open in fall 2016. Learn more at lassonde.utah.edu.