KiLife Tech Sets Record at Rice Business Plan Competition

BYU student technology startup wins over $700,000.

PROVO, Utah – Apr 20, 2015 – Many Brigham Young University students graduating this weekend will be getting checks from family and friends to help them as they begin their new careers.

Few, however, will be getting the more than $700,000 BYU MBA student Spencer Behrend received last Saturday.

Behrend and his team won the grand prize at the Rice Business Plan Competition, billed as the world’s richest and largest student startup competition. KiLife Tech won prizes that included hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment funds, in-kind services such as website development and business plan software and the chance for Behrend and his team to ring the NASDAQ closing bell later this year.

The company makes the Kiband, a wristband for young children. Paired with an accompanying mobile app, the wristband sets off an alarm when a child wanders too far outside of a designated boundary set by his or her parent. While the company has garnered positive attention and placed well in previous competitions, Behrend and his team knew they would be up against experienced competition in Houston.

“We didn’t go down expecting to win, but we went down determined to work very, very hard,” Behrend says. “Then when we were giving the final presentation we knew we were killing it. Everything seemed like it was just flowing.”

Selected by 275 judges from the investment sector as representing the best investment opportunity, KiLife Tech bested 41 other competitors hailing from some of the world’s top universities to win the grand prize. KiLife Tech’s winnings totaled the second-most ever awarded by Rice to a grand prize winner and the most ever earned in a single competition by a BYU startup.

Perhaps even more important than the prize money, however, is the instant network of investors and experienced entrepreneurs the team met through its winning performance.

“I was talking to a very successful entrepreneur and he shook my hand and said, ‘What you have now that you didn’t have before is not a lot of money, it’s a whole lot of friends,’” Behrend says. “I think the investment is helpful, but it’s really about how much everyone is willing to help us be successful in whatever way they can.”

The KiLife Tech team also includes another BYU MBA student, Zack Oates, who is the company’s vice president of business development and will graduate with Behrend this Thursday. Chief marketing officer Jeff Hall, a BYU Marriott School of Management graduate, and Jordan Baczuk, a master’s student in electrical engineering from the University of Utah and the company’s chief technology officer, round out KiLife Tech’s executives.

KiLife Tech has been working with BYU Marriott School of Management personnel from the MBA program and the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology for more than a year to refine and focus the company’s business model.

“The BYU MBA delivers a diverse education that works very well with a startup,” Behrend says. “The environment at the Marriott School is very open to taking a nontraditional pathway to creating your own job. The Rollins Center and the MBA program have been very encouraging to me from day one, saying yeah, if this is what you want to do, go do it.”

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems and public management. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Jordan Baczuk, Jeff Hall, Spencer Behrend (left to right) and Zack Oates (front) of KiLife Tech claimed the grand prize at the 2015 Rice Business Plan Competition.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Jordan Christiansen