Reese & Company, a bag accessory company from Southern Utah University, won the $1,000 People’s Choice Award in the 2020 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, a statewide business model competition managed by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, a division of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. The team won after collecting 880 of 3,906 total votes during several weeks of public online voting.
Reese & Company is a business that produces bag accessories specializing in handmade tassels and poms. They also produce leather key straps, simple keychains, and more.
When asked about where their idea came from, Kiana Stoker of Reese & Company said, “I often found that the bag I had could use a little something extra, so I created a tassel, which started this amazing adventure.”
“The next step for Reese & Company would be to expand our business into a shop that carries different types of accessories,” Stoker said. “We want to bring in new trends and keep on top of the current trends. Our goal is to keep our products unique.”
This year, students from universities and colleges in Utah submitted more than 150 applications for the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. The top 20 finalist teams included teams from the University of Utah (7 teams), Brigham Young University (4), Westminster College (2), Dixie State University (1), Salt Lake Community College (1), Snow College (1), Southern Utah University (1), Utah State University (1), Utah Valley University (1) and Weber State University (1). Their ideas ranged from medical devices and apps to fashion and travel gear. Find descriptions of all the top 20 finalist teams below.
“Each of these businesses has the potential to have huge successes down the road,” said Kearsa Hodgson, the student chair of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. “The student founders are impressive entrepreneurs that are tenacious in their work, and their business ideas are innovative and thorough. It is always amazing to see the wide range of ideas from students all across Utah.”
Over 40 judges with diverse industry expertise reviewed the submitted applications. The top 20 competing teams impressed them with their passion, innovation, and entrepreneurial grit. While the full competition was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the top 20 teams were able to showcase their ideas online and allow the public to vote on their favorite teams.
The second-place team in the People’s Choice competition was Parq from the University of Utah. They are developing a platform that allows home and business owners to rent their parking spots to the public. The third-place team was BidMyCrib from Utah Valley University. They created a website that allows students and young professionals to list their partial housing contracts for sale.
“The teams competing this year presented great ideas with a lot of potential, and it was highly competitive to make it into the top 20,” said Anne Bastien, program director at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. “The teams that advanced to the top 20 should be proud to be recognized as some of the most promising entrepreneurs in the state. We look forward to following their progress in the months and years ahead.”
Top People’s Choice Videos
2020 People’s Choice Voting Results
- Reese & Company (SUU) 22.53% (880 votes)
- Parq (UofU) 22.02% (860 votes)
- BidMyCrib (UVU) 11.42% (446 votes)
- The Girls Company (BYU) 6.96% (272 votes)
- Auxilium Automation (BYU) 5.35% (209 votes)
- Denali Drone Services (Weber) 4.15% (162 votes)
- Gaia Technologies (UofU) 3.99% (156 votes)
- Vitapul (UofU) 3.87% (151 votes)
- Disani Global Health (UofU) 3.07% (120 votes)
- Piing Watch (BYU) 2.48% (97 votes)
- The Guitar Hacks (Snow) 2.18% (85 votes)
- Hops and Hounds (Westminster) 2.07% (81 votes)
- Decheque (UofU) 1.89% (74 votes)
- Sawtooth (UofU) 1.87% (73 votes)
- My School Dance (UofU) 1.74% (68 votes)
- ControlAlt (BYU) 1.41% (55 votes)
- PaddedSoul (Dixie) 1.2% (47 votes)
- Pyramid Security (USU) 1.05% (41 votes)
- Concord Research Group (Westminster) 0.74% (29 votes)
Total Votes: 3,906
Utah Entrepreneur Challenge 2020 Top 20 Teams
Here are the top 20 teams in the 2020 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. These teams will advance to the final judging, showcase and awards event. They are listed in alphabetical order:
- Auxilium Automation (BYU) – A unique, self-propelled automated teardown tool for asphalt and shake roofing industries.
- BidMyCrib (UVU) – A website that allows students and young professionals to list their partial housing contracts for sale. This allows people stuck in non-flexible housing commitments to transfer their lease.
- Concord Research Group (Westminster) – A participant recruitment platform that aims to utilize the potential of online research to advance science while educating the public through transparent research objectives and data collection.
- ControlAlt (BYU) – A B2B software platform on a mission to connect alternative asset platforms and retirement custodians to make it easy for individuals to invest their savings.
- Decheque (UofU) – An online marketplace for investors and private funds.
- Denali Drone Services (Weber) – A company that provides drone services for commercial and industrial applications, particularly for the solar panel/mirror industry.
- Disani Global Health (UofU) – A low-cost, sterile uterine tamponade balloon for the management of postpartum hemorrhage intended for use in developing countries.
- Gaia Technologies (UofU) – A solution to simplify electronic prosthesis for increased consumer availability.
- Harmony (SLCC) – An app that tracks physical wellness. It monitors the location and gyroscopic functions of the user’s phone, displays the nutritional value of nearby restaurant menus, and facilitates guided meditation.
- Hops and Hounds (Westminster) – Utah’s first dog park and daycare that caters to both dogs and humans (21 and up).
- My School Dance (UofU) – An end-to-end dance and event-management platform for schools.
- PaddedSoul (Dixie) – A sustainable brand, from manufacturing to disposal, this company produces recyclable products and returns them to production at the end of their life.
- Parq (UofU) – A platform that allows home and business owners to rent their parking spots to the public.
- Piing Watch (BYU) – A wearable device to help caregivers monitor a person’s medication adherence.
- Pyramid Security (USU) – An online, B2B platform that allows small businesses to take control of website security, without hiring a security team.
- Reese & Company (SUU) – A bag accessory company specializing in handmade tassels and poms. The company also carries leather key straps, simple keychains, and other products.
- Sawtooth (UofU) – A load-expanding and -securing tonneau system that can quickly load, secure, and protect cargo taller than a pickup truck’s bed walls.
- The Girls Company (BYU) – A discreet fabric band that combines heat and pressure to alleviate cramp pain using oxygen-activated heat packs.
- The Guitar Hacks (Snow) – An online guitar course that includes interactive video lessons, e-books, a detailed practice guide, and quality guitar accessories.
- Vitapul (UofU) – An autoinjector that stores medication for anaphylaxis in order to promote a longer expiration date. The medicine is stored as a dry powder, then combined into a liquid solution moments before 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 Lassonde Studios, a five-story innovation space and housing facility for all students. Learn more at lassonde.utah.edu.