On April 7, the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will host MSU’s premier pitch competition at the Graduate Hotel in East Lansing from 4 – 8 PM. The annual competition highlights top student entrepreneurs and celebrates Michigan State University’s growing venture creation ecosystem.

“The Burgess New Venture Challenge is more than a competition,” said Ken Szymusiak, managing director of academic programs for the Burgess Institute. “This is high-stakes experiential learning. These fifteen semifinalists must prove their ideas are viable; the market demands their solutions; and, ultimately, their value propositions hold up to scrutiny.”

2022’s BNVC semifinalists will pitch their ideas during a private session before the student showcase opens to the public at 4 PM. With only five finalist slots available, student venturers will need to convince a panel of expert judges they have what it takes to compete for $44,000 in total scholarship prizes.

There are 15 2022 student semifinalists for the burgess new venture challenge, with only five finalists spots.

BNVC requires student applicants to be competition-ready: To qualify to compete, students must enroll in the Burgess Institute’s intensive Discovery and Launch venture creation programs, collect feedback about their ideas from potential customers as well as business leaders and venture coaches, and form collaborative teams around their submitted ideas.

“BNVC is a competition that supports student venturers from concept to pitch,” said Paul Jaques, managing director of venture creation for the Burgess Institute. “The BNVC experience ensures students are thinking critically about their ideas. They spend time refining and derisking. They are building skills through action: market research, customer discovery, supply chain — these are essential skills that bring value to their futures, whether they pursue their startups or join established firms and innovate from within.”

Introducing 2022’s Burgess New Venture Challenge semifinalists

2022’s Burgess New Venture Challenge semifinalist applicants represent eight colleges and over a dozen disciplines of study. Here are this year’s semifinalists:


Applicant: Grant Petrucci (petruc15@msu.edu), College of Communication Arts & Sciences

AlterNut provides clean food for healthier living with delicious, heart-healthy, vegan, organic, all-natural, peanut-free, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free trail mix that has no cross-contamination.

Branching Out

Applicant: Avery Tilley (tilleyav@msu.edu), College of Agriculture & Natural Resources

Branching Out is your supplier of fully customizable, grafted fruit trees yielding sustainable and organic peaches, plums, lemons and more, all from the same single tree growing comfortably in your living room.

Empyre Webs

Applicant: Jason Israilov (israilo1@msu.edu), College of Engineering

Empyre Webs is a software/web development firm tackling the problem of streamlining communication between clients and developers by consolidating information onto a centralized and integrated CMS.


Applicant: Danielle Tice (ticedani@msu.edu), College of Arts & Letters

Fello is a peer-to-peer location-based app that establishes creative ecosystems from the digital to the physical world by encouraging and facilitating collaboration and connection among creatives.

Foreign House

Applicant: Siham Hassan (abdall57@msu.edu), James Madison College

Foreign House is a one-stop social media powerhouse that provides top-quality social media services spread across various segments, including a magazine, film studio, streaming services and music record label.


Applicant: Laurisa Ankley (ankleyla@msu.edu), College of Natural Science

GradPhinDer provides biomedical graduate programs 24/7 access to find and connect with prospective applicants serving as an all-in-one tool for graduate recruitment, streamlining the process and breaking down the barriers of academia.


Applicant: Shu Pan (panshu@msu.edu), College of Communication Arts & Sciences

HighFun is an app to help Chinese people abroad to get more information and make friends. HighFun will help Chinese people to overcome language barriers and have a great travel experience when studying in the US.

OG’s Bakery

Applicant: Olivia Gargett (gargetto@msu.edu), Eli Broad College of Business

OG’s Bakery is a custom cake pop company with the mission to spread sweetness at small and large events that not only taste and look amazing but provide an experience for customers.


Applicant: Christian Nderu (nderuchr@msu.edu), College of Arts & Letters

Remy is a cross-border payments platform connecting wallets and businesses globally using blockchain technology and an existing network of global, major financial institutions as a medium.

Soup N’ Sip

Applicant: Olivia Simone (simoneol@msu.edu), Eli Broad College of Business

Soup N’ Sip is a walk-up and drive-through venture that caters to busy people on the go in need of a fast and easy satisfying meal with spoonless, sippable soup.

Spartan Miners

Applicant: Ethan Hopp (hoppetha@msu.edu), College of Engineering

Spartan Miners is a better solution to cryptocurrency mining and expanding your mining power. We have created a sleek, closed-design computer case meant to replace your desktop PC so you can play games, go to class/work and make money simultaneously.


Applicant: Bryan Lendzion (lendzio9@msu.edu), Eli Broad College of Business

Subleasify is an innovative, web-based platform that seamlessly connects property management companies, tenants and subtenants, allowing all three parties to finalize sublease agreements.


Applicant: Shreesha Maddur (maddurs1@msu.edu), College of Engineering

TalleyJobs is a job board website that solves the inconvenience, repetitiveness and significant time commitment of the job searching process by automating and optimizing it through a matchmaking algorithm.

The Cut Cookbook

Applicant: Madison Marsh (marshmad@msu.edu), College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

The Cut MI is a cooking, health and wellness brand that emphasizes the importance of shopping local and sharing the beauty that Michigan has to offer, and the brand’s cookbook has over 100 fun, simple and stress-free recipes.

UniServices, LLC

Applicant: Adam Green (greenad4@msu.edu), College of Law

UniServices is the Uber of odd jobs, using a mobile and web app to connect college students to residents in their communities to complete everyday chores.


The Burgess New Venture Challenge promotes entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation at Michigan State University. The competition identifies strong Spartan startups, provides mentorship and team development workshops and culminates in a year-end showcase event. 2022’s event will be on April 7, 2022, at the Graduate Hotel in East Lansing from 4-8 pm. Find out more about the Burgess New Venture Challenge at eship.msu.edu/burgessnvc. Free registration to attend the event can be found here.