The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) has named four student startup companies as winners in the fall 2014 Boyd Venture Challenge. The companies, ranging in nature from farm equipment to web design, each received $5,000 to $10,000 in seed funding to advance their businesses.
“We had a really great group of student companies apply this semester,” said Tom Graves, ACEI Operations Director. “The judges were very impressed by the quality of the businesses that presented, as is evidenced by the fact they chose to award four teams. The awards, collectively, represent the largest funding round since the fund’s inception in spring 2011.”
The fall 2014 winners are:
- Catalyst Cycling LLC, $10,000
- Make Me Modern Inc., $10,000
- FunLPro Technology LLC, $7,500
- FarmSpec, $5,000
Catalyst Cycling LLC, is a repeat Boyd Venture Challenge winner, having also won last fall. The Catalyst Cycling team is formed of Zach McCormick, a junior in mathematics, Nick McCormick, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, and Justin Clark, a junior in computer science. Their company sells innovative cycling parts and accessories, and is already gaining market traction with their carbon fiber wheel covers. They intend to use the $10,000 to finalize the designs of two additional products, the Time Capsule and Wheel System.
Make Me Modern Inc. is a web development company formed by Thomas Truett, a senior in business management, Anthony Meyer, a junior in electrical engineering, and Daniel Lawhon, a junior in computer engineering. They are developing a software program, Breeze, that will enable customers to preview their existing website in a variety of provided modern designs and allow them to update the look of their website with a simple push of a button. Make Me Modern intends to use the $10,000 to finish developing the Breeze software and begin beta testing.
FunLPro Technology LLC is owned by Bryan Crosby, an MBA candidate and Entrepreneur Fellow. He has developed a disposable funnel that integrates into product packaging and eliminates the need to use a separate funnel when pouring liquids like motor oil, antifreeze or bleach. The $7,500 will be used to finance packaging FunLPro and to develop FunLPro caps that will be available in major automotive retail outlets in early 2015.
FarmSpec is a company developing innovative technologies to improve the sustainability of global food systems. It was formed by Shawn Butler and Austin Scott, both master’s candidates in plant pathology and plant sciences, respectively. Their first product, the Flex Roller Crimper, is a new agricultural tool that will enable incorporation of cover crops into no-till and other crop production systems. They hold a provisional patent on the technology and intend to use the $5,000 prize to develop a working prototype for field-testing.
The Boyd Venture Challenge is administered through the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business. Since the fund’s inception in 2011, 20 student-owned companies have been awarded a total of $142,000 in seed capital to advance their businesses.
The Boyd Venture Challenge is made possible by the generosity of Randy Boyd, president and CEO of Radio Systems Corporation, makers of PetSafe, Invisible Fence and SportDog brands.