2016 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge Winner Through the Cords, LLC

U of U Student Startup Wins $40K at Utah Entrepreneur Challenge

A student startup from the University of Utah won first place and the $40,000 grand prize at the annual Utah Entrepreneur Challenge tonight for their design of a new endotracheal tube that makes it easier for medical professionals to perform endotracheal intubation, a risky procedure necessary for reopening airways for patients unable to breathe on their own.

“Winning the $40,000 dollars was a shock,” said Mackenzie Hales, one of the students on the winning team, Through the Cords, LLC. “The money will help us refine our product and get through FDA approval. However, more than winning the money, the best part of the competition was the positive feedback we received from judges and other participants. It was an emotional boost because it validated our efforts.”

Other University of Utah students on the winning team include Benjamin Fogg and Samer Merchant.

The statewide, business-plan competition is the culminating event of a number of student entrepreneur competitions hosted by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah and sponsored by Zions Bank.

“Zions Bank is thrilled to once again support the top student entrepreneurship contest in the state,” said Mike Winder, director of the entrepreneurship programs for Zions Bank. “The innovation and companies that grow out of this each year make a real difference.”

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 to quilting kits. (Watch team videos at lassonde.utah.edu/vote2016.)

“The competition is a lot of fun, and it’s a great steppingstone for Utah’s best entrepreneurs to receive feedback and get their name out there,” said Justin Stevens, a student director from the Lassonde Institute.

The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is one of many programs provided by the Lassonde Institute, one of the top-ranked entrepreneur programs in the country, according to the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Learn more about the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge at lassonde.utah.edu/uec. Learn more about entrepreneurship at the University of Utah at lassonde.utah.edu.

Download an image of the winning team to use with this news here: bit.ly/1YmaAxB. Additional images are available upon request.

UEC Award Winners

  • Grand Prize Winner, $40,000 (Zions Bank) – Through the Cords, LLC
  • Best Presentation, $5,000 (Zions Bank) – Latitude
  • People’s Choice Award, $2,500 (Zions) – passportXpress
  • Emerging Entrepreneur Award, $1,000 (Zions Bank) – Aura Optics
  • Emerging Entrepreneur Award, $1,000 (Zions Bank) – RetiOS
  • Best Tabling Award, $1,000 (Zions Bank) – passportXpress
  • Best Speed Pitch Award, $1,000 (Zions Bank) – SenseTech
  • Best Video Award, $1,000 (Jones Waldo) – Whistic
  • Bootstrap Award, $1,000 (Actium Partners) – SenseTech
  • Best Technology Award, $2,500 (Stoel Rives) – SenseTech
  • Deloitte in-kind Grand Prize Award, $3,000 (Deloitte) – Through the Cords, LLC
  • In-kind financial services to top-8 teams, $1,000 (Deloitte) – Through the Cords, LLC, Milky Hollow Farms, Latitude, Whistic, Conversature, Red Barn Collections, HOA Cloud, SenseTech
  • Business Incubator in-kind award, $1,000 (Impact Hub) – SenseTech, Red Barn Collections
  • Full branding package, $11,000 (Mint Think, Inc.) – RetiOS
  • Legal Services to top-8 teams, $1,000 (Jones Waldo) – Through the Cords, LLC, Milky Hollow Farms, Lattitude, Whistic, Conversature, Red Barn Collections, HOA Cloud, SenseTech
  • Best Product Design Award, $2,000 (Espiritu Design) – Sybo Technology
  • Startup Publicity Award, $2,000 (Beehive Startup) – Red Barn Collections

People’s Choice Video

We collected more than 5,000 votes from the public for best video. PassportXpress of UVU won. Watch their video:

Visit the video-voting page for all team videos.

UEC Top-20 Team Descriptions

  • Aura Optics (Utah State University) – a startup providing customizable snow goggles for skiing and snowboarding athletes.
  • Conversature (University of Utah) – provides conversation analytics software aiming to improve sales.
  • Dollow (Brigham Young University) – a social-media analytics platform.
  • Fake A Shade (Southern Utah University) – manufactures innovative window coverings that imitate plantation shutters.
  • HOA Cloud (Brigham Young University) – provides a software platform that helps homeowner associations communicate.
  • Hype (Snow College) – a universal app where people can create, discover and manage their events.
  • Latitude (Brigham Young University) – software that provides a simple method to create mobile tours.
  • Maskot Promotional Apparel (Dixie State University) – produces full face, see-through masks that allow sports fans to become their favorite mascot.
  • Milky Hollow Farms (Westminster College) – using Green methods, Milky Hollow Farms produces high-quality dairy products using goat and sheep milk.
  • passportXpress (Utah Valley University) – a mobile app replacing plastic ID cards.
  • Poulet Bleu (Utah Valley University) – a fully functioning premium chicken poultry operation.
  • Quilture (Utah State University) – manufactures custom quilt patterns.
  • Red Barn Collections (Westminster College) – recycles used books to make journals.
  • RetiOS LLC (University of Utah) – startup that uses light bulbs to boost wifi signal.
  • SenseTech (University of Utah) – provides solar-powered modules that collect data for agricultural needs.
  • Sybo Technology (University of Utah) – an automated robotic lighting system for surgeons.
  • Through the Cords, LLC (University of Utah, team previously identified as Runnels Endotracheal) – a startup providing a new endotracheal tube that enhances utility in the OR, ICU and emergency settings.
  • Tive (Westminster College) – a platform that allows businesses to make money while providing free wifi.
  • Waverly Design Co. (Weber State) – a branding and website design company aimed specifically towards helping photographers.
  • Whistic (Brigham Young University) – is a cloud-based platform that enables organizations to quickly evaluate and manage security risks.


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