Three UT student startup companies have been awarded a total of $35,000 to develop their businesses in the fall 2015 Boyd Venture Challenge.
Eight teams were selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of local entrepreneurs who determined which companies were most deserving of seed funding and how much they should receive.
“We saw an excellent group of companies this semester,” said Tom Graves, operations director of the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “The judges were quite impressed both with the variety and quality of the startups that presented. It’s exciting to see our students taking ideas and turning them into a reality.”
This year’s event set a new record for funds awarded in a single semester and pushed the total amount awarded by the competition to more than $200,000.
The fall 2015 winners are:
- T&T Scientific, $20,000
- SilkOps, $7,500
- GuruSkins, $7,500
T&T Scientific was formed earlier this year by two doctoral candidates, Nima Tadaddoni, a fourth-year student in mechanical engineering, and Graham Taylor, a fourth-year student in biomedical engineering. The pair invented the LipX extruder, a low-cost, single-use, three-minute liposome extrusion device. Liposome extruders currently on the market require thorough cleaning after each use, costing doctors and researchers valuable time. T&T Scientific will use the $20,000 grant to cover the costs of manufacturing and assembling the first units, with plans to sell their product as early as January.
SilkOps is a software-as-a-service company co-founded by Taylor Adkins, a senior in business analytics, and Thomas West, a senior at Virginia Tech. The program is an order management system that caters to custom printing companies, enabling users to input orders, manage production, and generate invoices. Several printing shops are already using SilkOps. Adkins plans to use the Boyd Venture Challenge funding to further develop the software and market it to more prospective clients.
GuruSkins is a website selling artist-designed ski and snowboard covers made out of high-quality vinyl, which enable customers to protect their board while conveying their individual style on the slopes. GuruSkins aims to foster an online community of board-sport participants and design enthusiasts by creating an interactive online website that provides a platform for artists to share their work and financially benefit from the sale of their designs as “skins.” GuruSkins is owned by Jake Rheude, an MBA candidate. He will use the award to fund search engine optimization efforts and a marketing campaign.
The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in UT’s Haslam College of Business, administers the Boyd Venture Challenge. Since the fund’s inception in 2011, twenty-three student-owned companies have been awarded a total of $207,000 in seed capital to advance their businesses.
The Boyd Venture Challenge is made possible by the generosity of Randy Boyd, founder and executive chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, makers of PetSafe, Invisible Fence, and SportDog brands. Boyd is the current commissioner of economic and community development for the State of Tennessee.
Kimberly Hood (865-974-5126, firstname.lastname@example.org)