Burgess New Venture Challenge Announces Inaugural Competition Winners

East Lansing, Mich. — The Burgess New Venture Challenge (BNVC), an early-stage pitch competition bringing together Michigan State University student entrepreneurs and business leaders from across Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, announces the winners of its first annual contest. Last evening, fifteen Michigan State University student startups pitched their ideas to a panel of expert judges, competing for scholarship prizes totaling over $40k in scholarship funding.

“Building Michigan State’s entrepreneurship program is a continuous labor of love,” said alumnus Robert “Bob” K. Burgess, an accomplished business leader and longtime university adviser. “It’s a privilege to see our students embracing the entrepreneurial mindset, finding success, and honing lifelong skills.”

The BNVC is a collaboration between Spartan Innovations and the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, promoting entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation at Michigan State University.

The generosity of sponsors, including the MSU Federal Credit Union, Foster Swift, Varnum, Dean Trailways, and the General Motors Foundation, ensured every competing student team received $500 in scholarship funding.

The following MSU student startups presented their strongest cases and, as a result, took home top prizes:

  • 1st Place: $15,000 (sponsored by MSUFCU): SKOOP

SKOOP specializes in mobility advertising. The company’s electric bike taxi fleets move passengers from point A to B. Each vehicle has digital advertising displays attached to the exterior and interior. Screens are always on the move displaying advertising content around town, subsidizing the cost of the ride for the passenger.

  • 2nd Place: $10,000: Perch

Perch is an online talent solution for academic research groups, university departments, programs and industrial R&D companies. Using a proprietary matching algorithm, Perch connects applications with employers to build great research groups.

  • 3rd Place: $5,000: Zonder

Zonder is a mobile application that gamifies travel, creating a unique travel profile for each user. It automatically rewards experience to users for visiting places so they can level up, earn badges, and compete with friends.

  • 4th Place: $3,000: Classii

Classii serves as a social learning network aiming to strengthen our academic community. By parsing publicly available data, students can find other students in their classes, ask questions, and form study groups at their university.

  • 5th Place: $2,000: EMAGE Technologies

EMAGE Technology is building a wireless auto-diagnostics tool to provide a solution to ongoing pipeline safety and reliability problems in industrial settings. The solution automates the inspection procedure and provides vital pipeline information (leaks, cracks, corrosion, material degradation, pressure, etc.) frequently and wirelessly.

With fifteen teams on the showcase floor, BioSolutions and Crown Mallard scored the People’s Choice Awards, each team receiving $1K.

BNVC is more than a competition,” said Ken Szymusiak, managing director of the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, “it’s a yearlong undertaking for our startup teams. It’s an investment of time and talent.”

Szymusiak and Paul Jaques, director of student and community engagement at Spartan Innovations, launched the Burgess New Venture Challenge’s programming in the early fall of 2018. Interested competitors who wish to file an Intent to Compete must first complete a battery of workshops and attend mentor sessions.

“At every step, our mission is to create high-quality learning experiences for Spartan entrepreneurs,” said Jaques. “The connections students make; the relationships they build—it’s all part of setting students up for success.”

About the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is the hub for entrepreneurship activities within the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. We empower emerging innovators to take action on their ventures through experiential learning opportunities and research in entrepreneurial development. Read more at broad.msu.edu/burgess-institute

About the Burgess New Venture Challenge

The Burgess New Venture Challenge is a collaboration between Spartan Innovations and the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, promoting entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation at Michigan State University. The yearlong challenge identifies strong startup teams, provides mentorship and team development workshops, culminating in a year-end showcase event. Register to attend at https://entrepreneurship.msu.edu/burgessnvc

About Spartan Innovations

Spartan Innovations provides the educational and financial support necessary to turn Michigan State University research technologies and student startups into successful Michigan businesses—and spur entrepreneurship in the Michigan economy. www.spartaninnovations.org