New Venture Challenge Awards $15,000 to Eight Student Entrepreneur Teams
PROVO, Utah – May 20, 2021 – Helping students start businesses is the purpose of the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the BYU Marriott School of Business. The Rollins Center accomplishes this goal throughout the year through the Miller Competition Series—a series of events and competitions that encourage students to continually work on their business ideas. By the time the series’ final competition, the Miller New Venture Challenge (NVC), happened near the end of the winter semester, students were prepared to share the traction they had achieved and take their businesses to the next level.
This year, students presented their companies to a virtual panel of judges. Each student company was judged on the following criteria: if the students identified a significant customer pain; if their solution resolved the identified pain; if their businesses showed notable market potential and had a unique and defensible competitive advantage; and if the students outlined a clear, achievable plan to take their businesses to market.
Through participation in the NVC, students learned valuable lessons that led them to improve their business ideas. “Competing in the New Venture Challenge was simultaneously rewarding and challenging because doing so caused my team and I to scrutinize and revise our business idea,” says Shad Baird, a pre-business sophomore from Washington, DC.
Baird was part of the YourLock team, a company that helps find simple solutions to package theft. “The competition drove us to ask questions and gain insights that we otherwise would not have. This newfound knowledge prompted us to improve our idea, which required hard work. Our revised business idea allowed our team to feel far more confident as we look to the future.”
One of the biggest challenges for students participating in the NVC was discovering the best way to present to the judges. Each company was required to assemble a five-to-eight-minute narrated slide presentation. The judges looked for presentations that displayed advanced levels of validation and traction.
“Telling your company’s whole story while focusing on your traction—how your company is currently progressing—is difficult at first. The more you can focus on traction, the better you will do in this competition,” says Danny Naylor, a 2021 business management graduate from Salt Lake City. Naylor’s subscription-based company, Storier, creates and compiles audiobooks, podcasts, and music appropriate for children.
“The most rewarding aspect of competing in the New Venture Challenge was interacting with other amazing entrepreneurs, which our team looks forward to continue doing as we participate in the Founders Launchpad this summer,” Naylor continues.
After viewing all the submissions, the judges selected eight winning business ideas, as well as four honorable mentions. Each of the eight winning student teams received a $15,000 cash prize to help fund their businesses, as well as automatic entry into this year’s Founders Launchpad. The launchpad is a summer program hosted by the Rollins Center that offers each team free office space, mentorship from an experienced entrepreneur, exclusive weekly trainings and speakers, and other amenities.
Both the cash prize and the launchpad help students work on and launch their businesses. “The prize money will allow the team I’m working with to keep improving our product over the next few months while we build our revenue,” says Bret Clapier, a 2021 MBA graduate from Holladay, Utah. Clapier’s company, alfred transition assistant, is a software that helps users organize financial accounts, legal information, passwords, expenses, family information, photos, and journals for improved end-of-life planning. “We are excited to have the support of the launchpad this summer, which will give us access to mentorship from experienced founders who can help us fine tune our revenue model and go-to-market strategy.”
In addition to the overall prizes, the Rollins Center also presented two additional awards: the Miller New Venture Challenge Judges’ Choice award, which gives a cash prize of $2,500, and the Miller New Venture Challenge Crowd Favorite award, which awards $500. Both awards were presented to Amano, a product that helps manage pool and hot tub water chemistry.
The Rollins Center staff members look forward to helping the new student startups through the launchpad program. “We are incredibly proud of the resiliency and creativity of BYU’s talented student entrepreneurs this past school year, especially given the hardships they faced with the pandemic,” says Jeff Brown, associate director operations for the Rollins Center. “We look forward to working closely with the students this summer so they can continue to build their businesses.”
The eight winning companies of the Miller New Venture Challenge included:
· alfred transition assistant: Bret Clapier, Alex Ericksen
· Amano: Alex Thompson, Derek Shields, Jaxon Smith
· LaparoVision: Jacob Sheffield, Ben Martschi, Ian Esplin, Amanda Lytle
· Lovage Labs: Austin Peterson, Boyd Christiansen, Robert Hinckley, Alex Steffen
· Playlist Plus: Harrison Noble, Sam Sabin
· Storier: Danny Naylor
· Tribe: Chandler Rogers, Jade Rogers, Jace Kendrick
· YourLock: Jerry Perry, Shad Baird
In addition to these companies, the Rollins Center recognized four honorable mentions:
· Geneial: Chris and Adam Hansen
· ReCloset: Jenny and Ryan Stenquist
· Tiedye: Mikayla Cheng, Aaron Chan, Rachel Daniel
· welift: Sydnee and Luke Nafrada
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert