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Risky Business: Students Vie for LaBounty Prize

It is the time of year for soon-to-be graduates to begin developing plans for their post-college careers. Other students, however, are developing a different type of plan: a business plan. These are the students of the LaBounty Entrepreneurial Competition.

LaBounty Competitors  
Contest participants Cody Sizemore, Admas Molla, Nick VandenPlas and Dylan McGuire collectively known as SpecFly, with Entrepreneur Club advisor, Assistant Professor Pat Borchert.  

2012 marked the third year of the contest. The past two years have been very successful, despite the start-up risks for the project itself. The Entrepreneurial Club took a chance and offered the program not

knowing if anyone would actually want to partake, but despite the uncertainty, it has become a success and attracted the participation of local businesses as well.

Local entrepreneurs, bankers, and UMD faculty used their real-world experience to judge the event. They acted as a panel in deciding the practicality of the proposed ideas. This year, there were 16 concepts proposed. Over 40 student from a wide range of majors participated in the feasibility study workshop,  and in November, five projects were chosen to move on to the final stages.

This year’s finalists built a variety of technologies from the ground up. The final projects were narrowed down to DIGIcinemas, a way to stream feature films; Experience College, an application to help college students get the most from their school, Hansen Technologies, a soundproofing material for homes, SpecFly, a local food ordering application; and TeleKenetic, an idea-generation company.

Although there were only four awards, Kjell R. Knudsen, dean of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, offered words of inspiration before announcing the winners, he said “All ideas have the potential to become profitable ventures.”

And with that, the winners were announced. Placing third was SpecFly, a project created by Admas Molla, Dylan McGuire, Cody Sizemore, and Nick Vandenplas. Molla, a senior in computer science of the innovative group said they already have ideas of how to use their prize. "Our prize reward will go towards either further developing the idea, which translates to the purchase of a tablet or mobile device for testing purposes, or talking to others and incorporating SpecFly."

Paul Hansen  
Paul Hansen of Hansen Technologies with his award winning composite fiber board.  

The second place winner was Experience College by Brandon Olander. Olander will continue to further develop his application for college students. He wants UMD,along with surrounding colleges and businesses, to utilize the application, ensuring it benefits locals first.

The grand prize winner was Paul Hansen of Hansen Technologies, a dual winner in the event, receiving first prize, as well as the Sustainability Award from the UMD Office of Sustainability. Hansen’s product is made from composite paper fiber board, for sound-deadening in home theatres.

Hansen is a chemical engineering student and intends to finish school while using his award money to help secure a patent on his product. “This is the first feasibility study that I’ve ever done. I’ve learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes for creating a business and coming up with funding for that,” said Hansen.

The students of the contest gained more than prize money, they experienced first-hand the hard work that goes into bringing a business to life. They took the risks, did the work and although only a few prizes were given out, the lessons they learned made everyone involved a winner.

"It is really interesting to find out that no matter how much work you've put into an idea, there is always room to grow and expand. The panel of judges offered to us remarkable insight into the business industry that we may soon find ourselves in and we are thankful to them "

 


Written by Jessica Coffin, coffi025@d.umn.edu April 2012

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Last modified on 05/09/12 09:54 AM
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