Idaho State University sending six student groups to the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge
March 9, 2018
POCATELLO—Idaho State University is sending six finalist teams to the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge next week at Boise State University on March 15-16.
The competition is an opportunity for students to pitch their new product ideas to a panel of judges, similar to the TV show “Shark Tank,” and to showcase their work to venture capitalists and angel investors. Some teams leave the competition with multiple funding offers.
Zion’s Bank sponsors the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge with $100,000 in seed funding to be awarded to the top-performing teams, with the first-place prize winners taking home up to $15,000.
This year’s challenge saw 80 initial applications from all 11 Idaho colleges and universities which were then pared down to 24 finalists by a panel of judges from Silicon Valley and the East Coast.
The six finalists from ISU began preparing in August, working with Jeff Street, director of the ISU Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. “These teams are making a real idea that they might take to market someday,” Street said.
As a coach for the finalist teams, he has been pleased with the opportunity and seriousness that the competition provides. Teams participated in the ISU practice pitch-off workshop in October, then participated in the ISU Pitch-Off Competition in December which was sponsored by US Bank. First-place winners garnered a $2,000 prize.
This year’s ISU finalists represent students from the colleges of Business, Education, Technology, and Science and Engineering and are excited to showcase their new products next week:
A student from the College of Education noticed a need for a better way to provide physical therapy services without needing five or six different machines. ReBox was developed as an all-in-one rehabilitation kit to assist physical therapy practitioners.
A student athlete from the College of Business created Tough Toes, a cushion insert for athletic cleats to prevent toe injuries on the field.
NariHub was created by students from the colleges of Business and Science and Engineering to fund Nepali women to make Sherpa-style clothing to be distributed in the United States.
The micro-credit union app Epimoni was created by students from the colleges of Business and Technology to provide a “Christmas club” financial tool in app form.
Guardian Lights is a flexible LED-lit vest created by a student from the College of Technology to be used by first-responders, construction workers, and joggers to signal their presence in the dark.
Synergy Services was created by a physics major with a minor in business as a partnership for high school students to subcontract as web designers for local business through their high school curriculum.
Last year was the first year that ISU students participated in the competition. Out of the six finalist teams, four came back with cash prizes. Some of these new products already have prototypes and funding in place:
WynderHub (wynderhub.com), which tightens wire fences owned by ranchers and farmers, won the first-place prize of $15,000 in the Agriculture and Agriculture Tech category. They currently have products on the shelf in 10 stores and a contract with a big-name distributor in 48 states.
Spare Space, now called Hibernate Storage (hibernatestorage.com) provides a unique way for college students to store their belongings. This $6000 prize winner will open for full capacity on April 1.
Also a $6,000 prize winner, Iuveni Duality (iuveni.com) is a salon product that colors and perms hair at the same time using a new chemical formula. Duality has secured domestic and international patents and will launch in May with the support of a board including a Fortune 100 marketing guru, staff stylist and educator, and excellent legal representation.
Participating in the competition has helped these teams prepare for the success they have had—from thinking through the details they were required to submit in their applications, to the workshops available during the competition, to the opportunity to meet real investors, say participants an organizers.