U Student Winners from the 2016 Opportunity Quest, funded by Zions Bank.

SenseTech Wins $5,000 in Opportunity Quest at the U

Student startup SenseTech won $5,000 and first place in the 2016 University of Utah Opportunity Quest (OQ) business-plan competition today. Ten teams advanced to the final judging and awards event. The competition is managed by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the U and sponsored by Zions Bank.

Other top teams included Aura Optics and Peke-Buo, which won second ($3,000) and third place ($2,000), respectively.

SenseTech founder Jacob Harris created a series of solar-powered modules that, when placed in a field, can send sensor data to the user’s smartphone or computer. With this data, the user knows exactly when, where and how much to water. Industries that might use SenseTech include: agriculture, city municipalities, golf courses and the U.S. Geological Service.

“The broad plan with this money is to grow SenseTech and make a bigger difference in the world,” Harris said. “I will to use this money to further develop our backend analytics database, as well as expanding our beta-testing program.”

Second-place winner Aura Optics is a unique ski and snowboard goggle company that creates customizable, high-performance goggles. They have differentiated themselves by offering customization with interchangeable lenses and straps. This allows the rider to increase their performance and adapt to different weather conditions quickly.

Peke-Buo, the third-place winner, caters to busy parents on the go, making diaper changing simpler, faster and easier. The Peke-Buo bag streamlines the changing process through a unique design; everything needed is attached to the side of a changing pad that folds into a compact, clutch-style diaper bag.

Opportunity Quest is a business-plan summary competition focusing on the executive-summary stage of business development. The Lassonde Institute, a division of the David Eccles School of Business, hosts branch OQ competitions across the state at partner universities. All participants are judged by industry experts.

Winning teams receive advance to the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, where students develop a full business plan and complete for a $40,000 grand prize.

Today’s final pitch event was a culmination of two weeks with mentors and workshops honing the finalists’ pitches for the panel of judges. All top-10 teams at the U event walked away with $2,000 of in-kind prizes that include co-working space at Church and State and Sustainable Startups, voucher with DevPoint Labs, and pitch consulting with Campus Founders Fund and 1 Million Cups SLC. All of the prizes and awards are given with no expectation of repayment or equity ownership.

Learn more at lassonde.utah.edu/oq.

Download high-resolution images to use with this news here: bit.ly/1K3uziK.

The top-10 finalists from the University of Utah were:

  • Aura Optics – Jake Nelson, a startup providing snow goggles for skiing and snowboarding athletes
  • coLife Care – Tab Robbins, aims to take doctor visits online
  • Conversature – Chris Orlob, provides conversation-analytics software aiming to improve sales
  • Curo – Austin Harrison, an innovative mobile wallet
  • Fitr – Suzzane Hyland, a platform designed to connect people with personal trainers
  • Peke-Buo – Emrys Tate, a startup looking to make changing diapers easier
  • Runnels EndoTracheal Device – Samer Merchant, a startup providing a new endotracheal tube that enhances utility in the OR, ICU and emergency settings
  • SenseTech – Jacob Harris, provides solar-powered modules that collect data for agricultural needs
  • Statbrush – Michael Moran, a tool designed to provide dentists with valuable data on patient brushing habits
  • Tive – Chris Fowles, a platform that allows businesses to make money while providing free Wi-Fi

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