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Burgess New Venture Challenge announces semifinalists for sixth annual competition

By Aaryn Richard, Clare Hampel
Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation today announces the 15 semifinalist teams selected to compete in its sixth annual contest, the Burgess New Venture Challenge.

On April 4, the Burgess Institute will host Michigan State University’s premier pitch competition at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing from 4–8 p.m. The annual competition highlights top student entrepreneurs and celebrates MSU’s growing venture creation ecosystem.

“The Burgess New Venture Challenge isn’t merely a competition,” Paul Jaques, managing director for venture creation, said. “It’s an immersive educational experience designed to foster student ventures. BNVC is crafted to nurture participants through a comprehensive journey, emphasizing critical thinking about their concepts. Students dedicate themselves to refining and mitigating risks associated with their ideas. They develop invaluable competencies through hands-on experiences in market research, customer discovery and understanding supply chains. These skills equip students for success in advancing their startups and enable them to contribute to innovation within established companies.”

The 2024 BNVC semifinalists will pitch their ideas during a private session before the student showcase opens to the public at 4 p.m. With only five finalist slots available, student venturers must convince a panel of expert judges they have what it takes to compete for the $50,000 in total scholarship prizes.

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

“The Burgess New Venture Challenge allows entrepreneurial students to showcase their ventures to the campus and the local community. These students have put in extra time and effort conducting research, writing business plans and validating their ideas above and beyond their regular academic schedules. I am honored to work with the Burgess Institute students and witness their accomplishments throughout their entrepreneurial journey,” Lori Fischer, director of operations at the Burgess Institute, said.

Of the 15 semifinalists this year, eight teams hail from the Broad College.

Introducing 2024’s Burgess New Venture Challenge semifinalists

2024’s Burgess New Venture Challenge semifinalist applicants represent six colleges and over a dozen disciplines of study. Here are this year’s semifinalists:

BC Cosmetics

Katyra Waller, Eli Broad College of Business

BC Cosmetics is an innovative, first-ever non-oxidizing beauty brand created to simplify the makeup journey for the amateur makeup user.

Bros ’n Dough

Gavin Green, Eli Broad College of Business

Bros ’n Dough’s quality convenient breakfast helps consumers who want fast, non-processed options with real ingredients by crafting a stuffed bagel that adds value to their morning and time into their schedule.

Detroit Salsa Company

Finn Gomez, James Madison College

Paying homage to Corktown, Detroit, with a fourth-generation recipe, Detroit Salsa Company provides high-quality, premium, fresh “craft” salsa.


Benjamin Kim, Eli Broad College of Business and Honors College

Dilemaa is a vibrant social media platform that revolutionizes decision making by leveraging the collective wisdom of a global community, focusing on lighthearted dilemmas for an entertaining and interactive experience.


Shaurya Pandya, James Madison College

FoxPufs is a healthy snack you can always count on.


Elliot Smith, Eli Broad College of Business

Motmot is a company specializing in using autonomous underwater robotics (AURs) to inspect and manage underground water pipe networks, aiming to improve operational efficiency and reduce water loss for municipalities and water authorities.

Odin Classroom

Aman Dhruva Thamminana, College of Engineering

Odin Classroom is an online coding platform to reduce friction in computer science courses.


Rainy Jain, College of Social Science

By harnessing the power of AI, Passionett takes a personalized approach to help users discover industries that seamlessly align with their unique blend of experiences, skills and passions.

PharmaBlue Labs

Chloe Katz, College of Communication Arts & Sciences

PharmaBlue Labs is a pioneering startup dedicated to advancing novel solutions for overlooked dermatological disorders by leveraging cutting-edge technology and innovative ingredients.

Stchs by Amy

Amy Chong, Eli Broad College of Business

Stchs by Amy is a clothing company focusing on hand-beaded and embroidered Formula One merchandise.

Student Tutors

Christian Shaman, Eli Broad College of Business

Student Tutors are simply students helping students learn.


Rohan Banerjee, College of Engineering

Targetist is an innovative AI-based universal task scheduler and project planner with a powerful, versatile, adaptive engine.


Matt Rogien, Eli Broad College of Business

Triple4s is a high-tech pepper spray device that instantly sends out the user’s current location to their emergency contacts and emergency services when deployed.


Advait Paliwal, College of Engineering

YouLearn provides personalized and collaborative courses on any topic.


Alina Morse, Eli Broad College of Business

ZolliCandy is zero-sugar, allergen-free, keto, diabetic-friendly, vegan, kosher candy that cleans your teeth.

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. The 2024 event will be held April 4 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing from 4–8 p.m. Find out more at

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