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Idaho State University student entrepreneurs meet the challenge

February 27, 2017
Kelsey West

Poster advertising Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge, featuring photos of students, labeled CEEDLINGS
Event poster

POCATELLO – Eight groups of students and alumni from various colleges at Idaho State University have banded together to participate in a competition headed by the ISU College of Business and Jeff Street, director of the ISU Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CEED).

The competition is known as the Idaho Entrepreneurship Challenge and represents a chance for students to share their product or service ideas for an opportunity to win $100,000 divided up between four categories including: agriculture and agriculture technology; health and healthy living; technology and consumer product or service; and social and cultural or environmental impact.

If selected, the ISU students will face off against other groups from seven state colleges and universities, including BYU-Idaho, Boise State University and the University of Idaho in March.

As part of IEC, the students started by presenting and refining their ideas last fall under the guidance of Street, working together to develop a product plan and “angel investor-type” presentation. Upon completion of their application in late February, students submitted a 60-second video clip introducing their idea as an elevator pitch to attend March’s competition. Now in the waiting phase, the eight ISU groups’ ideas are being evaluated by a group of judges including venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, CEO's, educators and designers from all over the country. If accepted, teams will visit Boise in late March to present their full ideas and see if theirs is the winning one.

“All of our students have unique and very different concepts and many of them have even progressed passed the idea stage,” Street said. “One of our students has met with the Small Business Development Center in the College of Business to discuss a business, marketing and funding plan, she has even hired a lawyer in beginning her business. Another student has a patent and LLC in place as well as a fully functional prototype of his product being built by students in the College of Technology. This has truly been an across-campus event with students participating from engineering, health sciences, chemistry, liberal arts, technology and business”.

One idea from an engineering and nursing program team is called SpareSpace, which brings storage space for college students to a whole new level. SpareSpace allows students that have to leave campus over the summer to have their belongings moved and stored in a large warehouse. The items are all stored together using an itemized barcode system to catalogue the items, all at a fraction of the cost of local (and typically full) storage units.

Another concept, spearheaded by a group of Bengal Solutions business students is an idea developed by a local anesthesiologist, Dr. Gary Cook. This project involves the problem of drug diversion among health care workers where nurses and doctors are stealing and administering prescription drugs, meant for patients, on themselves. This problem is an extremely costly crime and has been known to spread hepatitis and HIV. The group’s concept will develop software to detect and stop this problem.

Another student, a freshman in business, came up with the idea for sFlipd, an app that would allow users to physically control toggle light switches from their phone using the Internet. So, when the light is turned off or on using the phone, the light would not only respond, but it would also physically flip the switch up or down accordingly.

An idea geared toward an agricultural market is called WynderHUB. Designed by the business student’s grandfather, this device allows farmers and ranchers to tighten sagging wire fences in less than a minute – an issue that occurs regularly due to livestock reaching through the fencing for food.

Another idea, especially geared toward areas with high or low precipitation levels, is called Smart Lawn. This system, developed by a team of students from business and exercise science, allows water from sprinklers and rain to be recycled and reused for showers, plant watering and other non-potable water uses. The system involves four layers including a layer of turf, gravel, sand and clay that all filter the water before it is stored in a water tank.

A couple of students from the chemistry and theater departments have also teamed together to create a salon product that will allow users to color and perm their hair simultaneously with the application of one chemical product, rather than two separate applications. This process would both save on costs from fewer trips to the salon and less hair damage.

Another idea that is in the process of gaining a patent and LLC, is a device designed for the avid snow sports and music enthusiast. This remote control attaches to the user’s coat sleeve and, using large buttons, allows him or her to easily pause, skip, start and stop music on a mobile phone – even with bulky snow gloves on. Users can also answer calls and talk through the microphone system built into the device.

A team of students from engineering and business has developed an improvement in the process of producing bike tires. By adding a layer of reinforced fiber to the tire during production the durability of the tire against punctures can be greatly increased. The team hopes to develop the idea to the point of licensing it to one of the big players in the bicycle tire industry, and perhaps ATVs.

According to Street, the challenge represents an opportunity for students in any field to develop their entrepreneurial skills with the expertise of CEED and the College of Business.

“We hope to make the challenge a part of Management 2210, 4411 and a proposed Honors Program Interdisciplinary Seminar course next fall and encourage students from any college in the University to sign up,” Street said, adding that the courses will combine business and entrepreneurial concepts to help students develop an effective plan for developing their ideas into marketable and sustainable businesses.  

For more information about the challenge and next year’s courses contact Jeff Street at or call (208) 282-3162.