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Four student startup companies—from farm equipment to web design—have received a total of $32,500 to advance their businesses from the fall 2014 Boyd Venture Challenge.

Each business received $5,000 to $10,000 in seed funding after winning the pitch competition last week.

“We had a really great group of student companies apply this semester,” said Tom Graves, director of operations for the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which administers the Boyd Venture Challenge. Both programs are based in the UT Haslam College of Business. “The judges were very impressed by the quality of the businesses that presented, as is evidenced by the fact they chose to award four teams. The awards, collectively, represent the largest funding round since the fund’s inception in spring 2011.”

The fall 2014 winners are:

  • Catalyst Cycling LLC, $10,000
  • Make Me Modern Inc., $10,000
  • FunLPro Technology LLC, $7,500
  • FarmSpec, $5,000

Catalyst Cycling LLC, is a repeat Boyd Venture Challenge winner, having also won last fall. The Catalyst Cycling team is comprised of Zach McCormick, a junior in mathematics; Nick McCormick, a sophomore in mechanical engineering; and Justin Clark, a junior in computer science. Their company, which sells innovative cycling parts and accessories, is already gaining market traction with their carbon fiber wheel covers. They intend to use the $10,000 to finalize the designs of two additional products, the Time Capsule and Wheel System.

Make Me Modern Inc. is a web development company created by Thomas Truett, a senior in business management; Anthony Meyer, a junior in electrical engineering; and Daniel Lawhon, a junior in computer engineering. They are developing the software Breeze that will enable customers to preview their existing website in a variety of provided modern designs and allow them to update the look of their website with a simple push of a button. Make Me Modern intends to use the $10,000 to finish developing the Breeze software and begin beta testing.

FunLPro Technology LLC is owned by Bryan Crosby, a Master of Business Administration candidate. He has developed a disposable funnel that integrates product packaging and eliminates the need to use a separate funnel when pouring liquids like motor oil, antifreeze, or bleach. The $7,500 will be used to pay for the packaging of the product locally and develop FunLPro caps that will be available in major automotive retail outlets in early 2015.

FarmSpec is a company developing innovative technologies to improve the sustainability of global food systems. It was formed by Shawn Butler and Austin Scott, both master’s candidates in plant pathology and plant sciences, respectively. Their first product, the Flex Roller Crimper, is a new agricultural tool that will enable incorporation of cover crops into no-till and other crop production systems. They hold a provisional patent on the technology and intend to use the $5,000 prize to develop a working prototype for field-testing.

The Boyd Venture Challenge was created with funds from Randy Boyd, president and CEO of Radio Systems Corp. Since its inception in 2011, twenty student-owned companies have been awarded a total of $142,000 in seed capital.

To learn more about the Boyd Venture Challenge, visit the Anderson Center website.

C O N T A C T:

Kimberly Hood (865-974-5126,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,