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Burgess New Venture Challenge announces 2023 competition winners

By Aaryn Richard, Clare Hampel
Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Burgess New Venture Challenge, an early-stage pitch competition bringing together Michigan State University student entrepreneurs and business leaders, announces the winners of its fifth annual contest. On April 13, at the Graduate East Lansing, 15 Spartan student teams pitched their startup ideas to a panel of expert judges. All were competing for their share of $50,000 in total scholarship prizes.

“This is my first time experiencing the Burgess New Venture Challenge, and I can say it is more than a competition,” Laurel Ofstein, faculty director of the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said. “It’s a motivational force. Students draw on their experiential learnings, shaping and refining their startups. We couldn’t be prouder of these Spartans who have dedicated their time and talents to building something new.”

This year, nearly 40 teams applied to be part of the BNVC, with 15 semifinalists rising to the top.

To qualify to compete, BNVC team members must be enrolled students at MSU (undergraduate or graduate) and must be in good academic standing. Applicants must be active participants in the Burgess Institute’s Discovery or Launch Programs. Once selected, semifinalists must commit to attending group practice sessions, meet with assigned venture coach mentors and demonstrate movement toward their tailored milestones. Winning ideas must use awarded cash toward accelerating their startup ideas.

And the winners are . . .

These MSU student startups presented their most robust cases to 2023’s BNVC judges and, as a result, took home the top prizes:

1st Place ($15,000): UniServices, Adam Green, College of Law, and Hemkesh Agrawal, College of Engineering

UniServices is the Uber of odd jobs. It simplifies student-led task solutions, using a mobile and web app to connect college students to residents in their communities to complete everyday chores.

2nd Place ($10,000): Protein Pints, Paul Reiss, Eli Broad College of Business

Protein Pints is a protein ice cream supplement designed for athletic recovery and performance.

3rd Place ($7,500): Reel Free, Alexander Pollack, College of Natural Science

Reel Free is a medical device that prevents falls for individuals using supplemental oxygen.

4th Place ($5,000): Odin Classroom, Aman Dhruva Thamminana, College of Engineering, Rajmeet Singh Chandok, College of Engineering

Odin Classroom is an online coding platform aimed at reducing friction in computer science courses by providing a better user experience and reducing downtime.

5th Place ($3,000): Complete Competitor, Danielle Hanson, College of Human Medicine

This is a business in the form of an application that caters to the mental health and well-being of student athletes, providing 24/7 support.

“Students draw on their experiential learnings, shaping and refining their startups. We couldn’t be prouder of these Spartans who have dedicated their time and talents to building something new.”

BNVC attendees held sway in choosing two People’s Choice Awards. These awardees earned $1,000 each: Protein Pints and CodeBlue, a condom that indicates a hole by turning blue, crafted up by students from the Broad College, College of Natural Sciences, Lyman Briggs College, Human Medicine and Communication Arts & Sciences.

New this year, the Broad College’s Center for Ethical and Socially Responsible Leadership sponsored a $1,000 Social Impact Award. Representing CESRL were Beth Hammond, the center’s managing director, and Jennifer Dunn, the center’s associate faculty director and a fixed-term faculty member in the Department of Management. They presented 2023’s Social Impact Award to Motmot, an engineering company that installs submersible drones to inspect public water infrastructure, thought up by Broad student Elliot Smith.

“Without a doubt, Motmot stands out as the startup with the most social good impact,” Hammond said. “Sustainable access to clean water impacts us all, and Motmot offers a solution that’s well within reach.”

As is BNVC tradition, no team goes home empty-handed. Each of the remaining semifinalist teams took home $750 in seed funding.

“Our mission is centered around creating unforgettable learning experiences,” Paul Jaques, managing director for venture creation at the Burgess Institute, said. “The connections these student entrepreneurs make — with each other and with the experienced mentors, judges and attendees from across the entrepreneurial ecosystem — is all a part of setting them up for success.”

Congratulations to this year’s winners and to all the semifinalist teams!

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