Idaho’s next generation of entrepreneurs gathered on April 7 for the annual Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge, Idaho’s largest entrepreneurship event for higher education students. The twelve finalists competed for $50,000+ in cash prizes, along with legal consultation, accounting services and a “golden ticket” to pitch at Boise Entrepreneur Week. Students representing four Idaho universities pitched their ideas for funding, mentorship and recognition of their businesses.
Boise State University’s Venture College, a program within the College of Innovation + Design, launched the competition in 2014, enabling students from each of Idaho’s universities to pitch their ideas and learn from experts in making businesses work. Winners receive funds to help them build on their ideas and take them to the next level.
Zach Adams, a mechanical engineering student at Boise State, won the competition, representing On Glass, a company that offers quality pictures and does not interfere with the day to day use of your phone. On Glass Adapter offers a way for users to attach their cell phones to an optical device like a spotting scope, pair of binoculars, or telescope. This allows them to leverage the advanced cameras on phones, taking high quality images at a distance without the need to purchase the traditional large and expensive cameras or lenses.
Other track winners were:
- Technology Track: Jacob Brown, Willow’s Playground, University of Idaho
- Manufactured Goods Track: Brayden Olson and Brock Olson, Aquafur, Boise State University
Brayden Olson & Brock Olson, Founders of Aquafur, pitching at the 2023 Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge.
- Services/Consumer Packaged Goods Track: Sawtooth Sweet Shoppe, Kalyssa Safley, University of Idaho
Sawtooth Sweet Shoppe, Kalyssa Safley, pitching at the 2023 Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge.
- Accessories Track: On Glass, Zach Adams, Boise State University
- Trolley House Ventures Award: On Glass, Zach Adams, Boise State University
- Boise Entrepreneur Week Golden Ticket: On Glass, Zach Adams, Boise State University
- President’s Award: Jacob Brown, Willow’s Playground, University of Idaho
Jacob Brown, Founder of Willow’s Playground, receiving awards at the 2023 Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge.
The 9th Annual Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge was held in-person at the College of Innovation + Design. More than 40 entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders from throughout Idaho served as judges in the preliminaries, semi-finals and final pitch competition.
The 2023 IEC was sponsored by CDI Group of Companies, Trolley House Ventures, IGEM, Hawley Troxell, Stratton & Associates, Trailhead Boise and Boise Entrepreneur Week.
“The Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge inspires innovation across the state, encouraging higher education students to pursue their ideas and providing the funding necessary to do so,” said Cara Van Sant, director of Boise State University’s Venture College. “This competition introduces participants to the incredible community willing to support them throughout their startup journeys, providing invaluable connections that will last far beyond the IEC. We are grateful for the continued support of our community, and look forward to supporting these businesses as they grow in Idaho.”