The Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business welcomed the third class of founders in the Master of Business Creation (MBC) program this fall semester for the 2021-22 academic year. The program is offered with support from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.
The group consists of 23 founders who have launched 18 companies with products and services ranging from choke-prevention devices and delivery logistics to party planning and luxury pajamas. All have already made progress in starting their companies and are looking to grow sales and attract investors, among other goals.
See below for a complete list and descriptions of all the 2021-22 founders and their startup companies.
“We have a great group of founders this year and one of the most diverse since we launched the program,” said Taft Price, co-director of the MBC program and a professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy. “We look forward to working with each founder to see how far they can take their companies in the next nine months. We expect big things and more than a few surprises.”
New this year are five founders participating in the program remotely from around the world. Three founders are participating from Africa in partnership with Generation Africa, and two founders are participating from Providence, Rhode Island, in partnership with Brown University, where they are alumni. These partnerships are examples of ways the MBC program is growing and expanding its reach across the globe.
“We are proud to announce the new partnerships with Generation Africa and Brown University,” said Paul Brown, co-director of the MBC program and a professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy. “These founders will add a unique perspective that will benefit everyone in the program.”
MBC founders join a unique program designed to help them launch and scale a new company. They complete the program in just nine months, and all are receiving full scholarships that cover the costs for the program.
The Eccles School created the MBC program to blend the best attributes of a business curriculum with a startup accelerator. The founders develop their startups during the program while taking classes from leading experts and receiving extensive resources and mentorship to help them address their immediate business needs.
The founders in the program are all entrepreneurs focused on creating a new business through applied curriculum, practicum labs and learning by doing.
The MBC program is one of the latest additions to the Eccles School entrepreneurship program that is ranked among the top 10 in the country by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review. The MBC program also was recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) in the 2020 Innovations That Inspire member challenge.
Isaac Sesi is one of the founders participating from Africa. His company, Sesi Technologies, is based in Kumasi, Ghana. It develops affordable solutions to help African farmers and agribusinesses increase productivity and reduce losses. He was recently named by MIT as one of the 35 technologists under 35 making a difference in the world.
“I worked as part of a team looking to develop a low-cost moisture meter to help smallholder farmers easily measure moisture content in their grains and reduce post-harvest losses,” Sesi said of his inspiration. “The project was successful, and I decided to start my company to commercialize the technology.”
Greg Fine and Abbie Kohler are the alumni from Brown University in the MBC program this year. They founded ResusciTech, a software company helping improve patient outcomes in emergency medicine by improving CPR training.
“I was doing medical illustrations at Rhode Island Hospital when I overheard an EMT mention how difficult it is to do CPR,” Kohler said. “That inspired my cofounder and me to develop our chest-compression feedback technology, which is the core part of our CPR training app.”
Sisters-in-law Britney Beardmore and Sarah Duke are in the MBC program this year to grow their business, Acrely Farms, a boutique hemp farm in the mountains of Utah providing high-quality CBD (cannabidiol).
“Britney and I dreamed up the idea of Acrely Farms while riding on a chairlift at Alta [Ski Area],” Duke said. “It came about after growing some amazing hemp plants and realizing all of the health and wellness benefits the plants provided.”
Learn more about the Master of Business Creation program at eccles.utah.edu/mbc. The application to join the program for 2022-23 is now open.
2021-22 MBC Startups & Founders
Here are the 2021-22 MBC startups and the founders enrolled in the programs (in alphabetical order by company):
- Acrely Farms (Britney Beardmore, Sarah Duke) – Acrely is a boutique hemp farm in the mountains of Utah. Its dream of bringing high-quality CBD (cannabidiol) to the community was founded with the love of plants and organic growing practices. The founders believe in the amazing health and wellness benefits of hemp and are excited to share their carefully crafted small batch products.
- Balance Technologies (Andrew Burchett, Mike Hale) – Did you know 72% of American households feel stressed about money on a monthly basis and 78% of U.S. workers live paycheck-to-paycheck? Balance helps with these issues by providing a mobile-first banking solution that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate your finances. In two minutes or less, Balance can create a budget and put you and your family on a path to financial balance.
- Blue Gecko Apparel (Brennen Woodward) – Blue Gecko provides general apparel decoration by utilizing screen printing and embroidery processes. It can provide custom work with low-order minimums at affordable prices. It specializes in team e-commerce sites by handling order creation and fulfillment.
- Breath of Life (Elizabeth Jeffrey, Jason Koncurat) – Breath of Life exists to make emergency situations easier by creating functional and intuitive devices that make it easier for people to overcome panic and save lives. It is developing a device designed to provide a quick and simple alternative to abdominal thrusts to save the life of a choking victim. The device, called The Breath of Life, has the ability to suck out a throat obstruction with the push of a button. The design provides peace of mind in emergencies in environments where choking can happen.
- Cloutchain (Tim Nielsen) – Cloutchain provides musicians, athletes and other creators a new way to monetize their fanbase. Through Cloutchain, creators can design and sell digital collectible cards that will unlock exclusive engagement opportunities for fans. Cloutchain cards are backed by non-fungible blockchain tokens (NFTs) and can be bought, sold and traded in secondary markets, effectively making a market that trades on the demand for each individual creator’s engagement.
- Five Flute (Carson Darling) – Five Flute is a communication platform for hardware engineering teams. It helps teams discuss engineering problems and make decisions faster.
- Health Beet (Amy Roskelley) – The mission of Health Beet is to help women achieve their weight-loss goals by adopting scientifically sound lifestyle changes that create healthy habits for life. They do this by providing education, motivation, resources and support through products, workshops, videos, social media, community and articles.
- How Everyone Eats (Cynthia Wong) – How Everyone Eats is an online platform that offers exclusive, curated food experiences and interactive content.
- Maungo Craft (Bonolo Monthe) – Maungo Craft makes unique, vegan, small-batch preserves and hot sauces by using the indigenous fruits of Botswana then pairing them with contemporary flavors to create a unique African taste. It doesn’t use artificial preservatives, is climate-change conscious and has won 13 awards locally and internationally. The company puts “culture in a bottle.” (Participating in partnership with Generation Africa.)
- OBRI Tanzania (Brigitha Chuwa) – OBRI Tanzania is an agri-food company that works with smallholder sunflower farmers to transform agriculture in Africa by undertaking opportunities for growth and business that will engender sustainable food production and increased incomes for smallholder farmers. Its goal is to provide the best choices in organic cooking oil (more nutritious, healthy and affordable) and offer an amazing experience to our customers. It is a local, healthy and impact-driven company. (Participating in partnership with Generation Africa.)
- Party Pipeline (Joel Zae) – Party Pipeline is an online marketplace that enables event planners to hire local and trendy vendors. It takes the hassle out of planning a party by providing a selection of vetted vendors, streamlining the booking process and allowing the customer to pay all vendors through one payment portal.
- ResusciTech (Greg Fine, Abbie Kohler) – ResusciTech is a software company that aims to improve patient outcomes in emergency medicine. It does this by delivering a convenient and engaging CPR certification course. This course includes hands-on, guided chest compression practice, which can be completed with just a smartphone and couch cushion. The company plans to pursue FDA clearance so its CPR feedback technology can be used in real emergencies. (Participating in partnership with Brown University.)
- Sesi Technologies (Isaac Sesi) – Sesi Technologies develops affordable technologies to help African farmers and agribusinesses increase productivity and reduce losses. For smallholder grain farmers, it bundles proven post-harvest management technologies and other value-added services and makes them available to farmers in a way they can afford through its innovative FarmerPack model. Located in Kumasi, in the middle of Ghana, Sesi Technologies is made up of young people from diverse fields, working together to fulfill a big purpose – to create and live in a world where poverty and hunger does not exist. (Participating in partnership with Generation Africa.)
- Skale Fulfillment (Trevor Wiggins) – Skale Fulfillment is a full-service pick, pack and ship order fulfillment company focused on the nutritional supplement industry in Utah. It fills the chasm in the industry between in-house order fulfillment and big-box 3PL services, all while providing cohesion between supplement brands, their manufacturers and their customers. It arms customers with the brand-building tools necessary to help them face their growing pains, from fulfillment, corporate swag and manufacturing to supply chain and digital media.
- Thin Hair Thick (Tiffany Young) – Thin Hair Thick strives to offer comfortable alternatives in hair wear. Traditional market offerings such as hair extensions and wigs tend to damage hair or are uncomfortable and require consistent ongoing salon maintenance. The founder believes hair wearing should be comfortable and convenient while being easy enough to apply without a salon professional.
- West of Breakfast (Anna Connolly, Sarah Kate Price) – West of Breakfast is a luxury pajama company that focuses on fun pajamas that can be worn day or night.
- WikiCharities (Angie Holzer) – WikiCharities is creating an online community for the nonprofit sector, similar to what LinkedIn did for the professional space. It connects the world’s nonprofits, volunteers and funders to improve collaboration and to see better outcomes. It also provides a nonprofit validation that allows for more informed decisions to be made with global giving.
- Worklyfe (Travis Ashby) – Worklyfe is a personalized, experiential benefits and incentives platform that helps companies turn ordinary jobs into extraordinary adventures.
About the David Eccles School of Business
The Eccles School is synonymous with ‘doing.’ The Eccles experience provides a world-class business education with a unique, entrepreneurial focus on real-world scenarios where students put what they learn into practice long before graduation. Founded in 1917 and educating more than 6,000 students annually, the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business offers nine undergraduate majors, four MBAs, eight other graduate programs, a Ph.D. in five areas and executive education curricula. The School is also home to 12 institutes, centers and initiatives that deliver academic research and support an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation. For more information, visit Eccles.Utah.edu or call 801-581-7676.
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 Entrepreneur Institute also manages Lassonde Studios, a five-story innovation space and housing facility for all students. Learn more at Lassonde.Utah.edu.