College students from 49 universities across the U.S. and around the world came to TCU April 10-11 to present plans that demonstrate a societal or environmental need to be filled, as well as the profitability of the business. More than 80 business leaders served as judges and mentors, to provide a solid base of knowledge about the viability of startup businesses.
San Diego State University won TCU’s fifth annual Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures® Business Plan Competition presented by TCU’s Neeley School of Business. Their plan for W.E. Do Good™ provides a low-cost, human-powered machine to improve agronomic practices and impact poverty in Ethiopia and other countries that harvest the teff grain through current arduous, unsanitary and unhealthy means. The Teff Thresher requires no fuel or electricity and is affordable, durable and portable. SDSU won the Grand Prize of $25,000.
“Winning the TCU Ventures and Values Competition provides the W.E. Do Good social venture with critical resources and invaluable relationships,” said SDSU faculty advisor Michael Sloan. “Their dream to substantially reduce poverty and have a significant social impact for farmers and women in Ethiopia will now become a reality.”
Second place and $15,000 went to Grand Valley State University for Soletics’ gloves that deliver superior temperature management using sensors and real-time biofeedback for individuals suffering from Raynaud’s Disease. Soletics will give 1% of net revenues to the Raynaud’s Association to further research for a cure. The team from GVSU also won $25,000 in marketing and advertising from competition sponsor Warren Douglas.
Third place and $10,000 went to Georgetown University for MISFIT Juicery, which utilizes discarded, misshapen fruits and vegetables to make cold-pressed juices. Six billion pounds of produce go unharvested or unsold every year because they are the wrong shape, size, slightly damaged or simply excess.
Four Honorable Mentions of $2,500 each went to teams from Texas Christian University for VitiFive custom vitamin supplements delivered monthly with five percent of profits to charities designated by customers; University of Chicago for UProspie, an online platform that connects prospective students with current undergraduates; University of Texas at Dallas for Songbird Speech Solutions SPEAK series of books to assist children with speech disorders; University of Calgary for Peeach web platform matching students with nearby tutors; Northern Kentucky University for Vegy Vida patent-pending, bitter-blocking formula for an all-natural squeezable vegetable sauce to combat childhood obesity; and Drexel University for Kegg, a private, interactive database of events for college students accessed through a free app.
Two special Founders Awards of $5,000 each went to the U.S. Air Force Academy for Bridge Watch, a plan to cut government bridge maintenance costs, estimated at $20.5 billion by 2028, by monitoring anode corrosion to improve the corrosion repair process; and Johns Hopkins University for Vera Surgical, an easy-to-use device that streamlines the closure process of laparoscopy while saving hospitals money and increasing patient safety.
All 49 teams also could designate one member to participate in an elevator pitch competition. The first place winner of $1,000 was DePaul University for BBands headbands that display messages of inspiration to young women. Second place of $500 went to University of Houston for PuruS, a patented process that focuses on the purification of cleaner and renewable energy sources such as natural gas and biogas. Third place and $250 went to University of Arizona for CrateCrops, which combines aquaponics, vertical gardening and automation inside shipping containers.
For a complete list of competing universities teams and business plans, visit www.neeley.tcu.edu/vandv.
In addition to cash awards, in-kind support from sponsors included: First Place – $75,000 of marketing/advertising services from Warren Douglas; $15,000 of social media, consulting or video services from Splash Media; three hours of legal consulting services from Winstead PC; one month of services from LobbyIt.com; four hours of IT consulting services from Comport Consulting and one year co-working membership with IDEA Works FW. Second Place – $10,000 of social media, consulting or video services from Splash Media; three hours of marketing/branding consultation from Ascend Concepts; two hours of legal consultation from Winstead PC; and two hours of IT consultation from Comport Consulting. Third Place – $5,000 social media, consulting or video services from Splash Media; three hours of marketing/branding consultation from LComm Marketing & PR; two hours of legal consultation from Winstead PC; and two hours of IT consultation from Comport Consulting.
Students also heard from Dr. Jeffrey Stamp as part of TCU’s Bolin Innovation Forum, and participated in Dear World’s inspiring message-on-skin photo campaign throughout the competition.
This is the fifth year for the Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures® Business Plan Competition, held at TCU, which encourages undergraduate business students to create for-profit ventures that have a values component. The competition was founded in 2010 with a commitment and endowment from Dallas business partners Nancy Tartaglino Richards and Lisa Barrentine of First Preston HT.