Education

Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge

Idaho University Students Compete for Money to Grow Businesses

Breanna Olaveson | Photos courtesy of Zions Bank Apr 30, 2018

The winners of the fourth annual Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge were announced at a special awards ceremony at the Boise State Alumni and Friends Center on March 16. The Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge is a venture competition open to college and university students throughout the state that aims to stimulate ideation and innovation through entrepreneurship.

The competition is hosted by Boise State University’s College of Innovation and Design and gave more than 90 teams from nine colleges and universities in Idaho a chance to win a share of $100,000 in seed money to help them start or grow their business. From those 90 teams, 24 finalists from five schools were invited to a final pitch competition in Boise.

The team from Green Mind explain their venture to attendees during the Table Top Presentation.

A Winning Panel of Judges and Sponsors

Student teams chosen as finalists pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges. This year, the panel was comprised of 31 judges from a variety of industries who donated their time and expertise free of charge. Zions Bank sponsored the challenge by donating prize money, and Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise sponsored the Health and Healthy Living category.

Gordon Jones is the dean of the College of Innovation and Design at Boise State University.
Zions Bank EVP Rob Brough addresses student entrepreneurs at the welcome event at Zions Bank’s Idaho headquarters in downtown Boise.

2018 Competition Winners

This year’s winning entries received a share of $100,000 in seed money. Entries were divided into four categories: Agriculture and Agriculture Technology; Health and Healthy Living; Technology, Consumer Product or Service; and Social, Cultural or Environmental Impact.

Nielsen and Jones present a $12,000 check to Virtual BLOCK Fest.
Nielsen and Jones present a $12,000 check to the team behind Lumineye.
Nielsen and Jones present a $12,000 check to Britt Dickman, founder of ReBox, who is congratulated here by her university adviser ISU College of Business professor Dr. Jeff Street, second from left.
Zions Bank Region President Toni Nielsen and Boise State Dean Gordon Jones present a $12,000 check to the team behind Rut On.

Agriculture and Agricultural Technology

  • Winner: Rut On, BYU-Idaho. A redesigned pivot wheel that eliminates ruts caused by traditional pivot wheels. Students: David Dearborn, Tyler Fullmer, Jason Jensen, Kurtis Kousen, Jacob Thomas
  • Runner-up: Valley 365 Greens, Boise State University. A farm using up-cycled shipping containers converted into a vertical hydroponic growing system that produces 500 heads of lettuce per week.

Health and Healthy Living

  • Winner: ReBox, Idaho State University. A plyometric box with a lid that doubles as a balance board and has hooks on the sides to attach resistance bands for stretching. Student: Britt Dickman
  • Runner-up: Orchestra, University of Idaho. A company that uses cricket protein to produce nutrition bars.

Social, Cultural or Environmental Impact

  • Winner (tie): Green Mind, College of Idaho. A company that sells plants in a social entrepreneurial model to combat the stigma of mental illness and encourage good mental health practices. Students: Kennedy Alvaro, Hannah DalSoglio, Ryan Elsberry, Monique Lopez, Matt McCaughlin, Shawn Zhang
  • Winner (tie): Virtual BLOCK Fest, University of Idaho. A program that teaches STEM-based skills through block play. Students: Nate Buchheit, Brittnay Davis, Andrea Graf, Serendel Macphereson
  • Runner-up: Epimoni, Idaho State University. A free web application and smartphone app that helps young people save money without incurring debt.
  • Runner-up: NariHub, Idaho State University. An organization that aims to help local female entrepreneurs by providing them with an opportunity to knit winter clothes.

Technology, Consumer Product or Service

  • Winner: Lumineye, Boise State University. A company that creates wall-penetrating radar sensors to help soldiers and first responders identify people and threats through walls. Students: Corey Hennen, Rob Kleffner, Megan Lacy, Stinson McElhinney
  • Runner-up: VR1 Arcade, Boise State University. A virtual reality arcade franchise hoping to open multiple arcades in many regions.
  • Runner-up: Rev Rack: Vehicle Cargo System, Boise State University. A multipurpose vehicle cargo rack with a flat-tray design.
  • Runner-up: INTERNET FOR ALL, BYU-Idaho. A company that provides internet access to rural areas by using innovative technologies that minimize the cost of user acquisition and infrastructure.

Other New Ideas and Innovations

Technology, Consumer Product or Service drew the most entries of the four categories with 11 of the final 24. Other finalists in this category included:

  • Starlite Outdoor Equipment, a company that sells a camping lantern that can light an entire campsite.
  • Blue Collar Virtual Reality (BCVR), which builds workforce training simulators where workers can experience real-world applications without real-world consequences.
  • PU: The Potty Training Assistant, an e-commerce company that sells a new solution to teaching children how to exercise proper hygiene when using the restroom. 

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