By Matt Jones, Boise State University Communications and Marketing
The 2019 Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge, presented by the College of Innovation and Design and the Venture College, is an annual competition during which student entrepreneurs represent universities from all across Idaho compete for a chance to receive a portion of $100,000 in seed funding. Nearly 200 teams submitted their innovative ideas this year, but only 24 teams from seven universities made the final cut – the most competitive application process in the event’s history. The finalists will pitch their ventures in front of a panel of judges March 27-28 on the Boise State campus.
The participants must fall into one of the four pitch categories: agriculture, health, tech, or social and environmental impact. Teams that are representing Boise State this year include:
- Belong and Brew is pitched as a unique coffee shop that would promote self-sustainability and demonstrate to the community that people with special needs are more than capable of contributing to society through the hiring and employing of those with disabilities.
- Pressed Dress would give brides the option to display and treasure their wedding dresses long after the wedding through their innovative framing and display process.
- Simu Daktari would provide healthcare services via telemedicine to families in rural Kenya who otherwise cannot access quality healthcare services.
- Free to Feed produces test-strips for mothers to test for allergens in their breastmilk. With an over-the-counter test-strip, mothers could analyze their milk for allergen proteins and track which ones were present in her milk at the time of feeding.
- MobiliToe is a simple, easy-to-use product that improves the flexibility of the big toe, help prevent the development of common foot deformities hallux valgus and hallux rigidus, and with continued use, lead to improved balance and performance.
- PadVantage would offer reusable menstrual pads for low-income individuals in need.
- Tis the Season would solve the problem of expensive and hard-to-book lawn and garden services by creating an app for smartphones, connecting their customers with ready and able student labor whenever it is needed for a fraction of the cost of other labor services.
The Venture College has a significant impact on these student entrepreneurs by offering resources to help make their vision a reality. A preview of each team will be on display at Trailhead (500 S 8th Street) on March 26, followed by a “pitch off” of the winners at the awards reception – free and open to the public – from 4 to 5 p.m. on March 28 at Boise State’s Stueckle Sky Center.
“The college’s support springboarded this to a real program,” said Trill Paullin, Free to Feed‘s co-founder who holds a doctorate in cellular and molecular biology. “The extra funds that we could receive by placing in the challenge can be applied to development stages like building a team, collecting more data and further sharing our story.”
The challenge also gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to connect with business leaders on local and national levels.
“The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation is proud to support the College of Innovation and Design’s Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge for several reasons,” said Roger Quarles, executive director of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. “It speaks directly to many of our core values including leadership, opportunity, innovation and results; it aligns with our giving strategy around innovation in learning; and it brings relevance and opportunity to the forefront of higher education. The spirit of the event is challenging and engaging and places some of Idaho’s top talent in positions to share their innovative ideas with key business leaders from across the United States.”