Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition

Compete to win $50,000 to help fund your innovative ideas in this annual competition for budding entrepreneurs.

Rules and registration

Find out more about the rules and qualifications, or register to compete in the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition.


Discover the resources available for the competition, including courses and events, coaches, advisors and consultants.

About Rick Sontag

Read about Alumnus Rick Sontag's $1 million gift to the University, which created the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition.

About the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competetion

Sontag Entrepreneurship Winners by Year

Learn more about teams previously involved in the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, as well as the winners!

  • 2021 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2021 Winner: MyKar

    Team Member(s): Dawson Lamb, Akram Reshad, Gurjant Mand, Jacob Teems-Robinson and David Haulot

    MyKar, LLC is a pick-up and delivery service to help automobile owners struggling from prolonged and put-off maintenance, easily solve their automotive service difficulties.

    2021 Finalist Teams

    Me & My Truck

    Team Member(s): Hunter Jablonski and Thomas Setnan

    Me & My Truck, an application service that connects customers to prospective haulers, so individuals with trucks can work as their own boss, hauling and moving items for customers in their community.

    Secura Technologies

    Team Member(s): Porter Rittenhouse

    Secura Technologies, a reliable tracking and asset monitoring service for equipment in construction and closely related industries.


    Team Member(s): Alyssa Cova and Sienna Bates

    SheTrek, a travel and tour service with the goal of providing women with a safe, worry-free and empowering travel experience.

    Ubuntu Health Innovations

    Team Member(s): Jacob Mwanza and Hamza Asumah

    Ubuntu Health Innovations, a mobile application and virtual consultation platform that seeks to make health and healthcare information easily accessible to the public and healthcare professionals in Ghana, Africa.


  • 2020 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2020 Winner: TreaTea

    Team Member(s): Parker Declercq and Oscar James Loyd

    TreaTea manufactures specialized tea bags and produces four types of tea blends. According to TreaTea’s product description, “each blend is equipped with quality tea and powdered natural dietary supplements to help customers improve their mental states.” The products help people around the globe improve their mood, sleep, focus and energy.

    2020 Finalist Teams


    Team Member(s): An Tran and Son Nguyen

    Socobot developed a game designed to help educate children about machine manufacturing, mobile robots and the STEM fields.   Socobot is a soccer game with physical robots controlled by a mobile application. The game requires users to assemble the separate components to build a Socobot, learn to control Socobot before entering a soccer match with friends or family members.  Users can develop their own Socobot and controlling skills. Socobot contains everything users need to construct their dream robots by entering the robotics world with real materials: gear DC motor, Arduino controllers, motor drivers and other mechanical parts.


    Team Member(s): Stefano Shishido, Hope Triplett and Anna Montgomery

    DrinkMode is a start-up product design and manufacturing company that has perfected a 2-in-1 cup holder (with venue or sponsor advertising space). It gives the consumer the ability to carry multiple beverages from the

    concession stand to seats with ease while also gives the consumer a secure, sanitary way to hold multiple drinks when seated, as seats typically have a single cup holder. Sponsorship message stays with the consumer from point of purchase throughout the duration of the event (and potentially after).     


  • 2019 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2019 Winner: Sturn Designs

    Team Member(s): Nicolo Monforte and Matt Linder

    Sturn Designs Ltd. designs, manufactures, and distributes four-season all terrain expedition vehicles. These vehicles are equipped with a self-contained four person living cabin. The vehicles consist of two main components, a four-wheel drive midsize truck (Toyota Tacoma or similar) and a fiberglass or carbon fiber camper shell.

    2019 Finalist Teams

    Campus Refill Initiative

    Team Member(s): Samantha Romanick

    The Campus Refill Initiative (CRI) is a partnership between a local zero waste company, Black Rock Refill (BRR), and the Nevada Wolf Shop located at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). The CRI aims to reduce plastic waste by offering sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic products to its students, faculty, and staff. CRI is currently serving as a pilot program at UNR during the 2018-2019 academic year. CRI’s goal is to expand to other Universities and Community Colleges across the country, and eventually across the globe.

    Don’t Drive

    Team Member(s): Tristen Houston and Devin Kahl

    Don’t Drive is bringing communities together to provide a safe and convenient solution for getting you and your car home. Don’tDrive utilizes a mobile application which provides a location-based, ride request platform that serves as the dispatch and network infrastructure for all privately contracted drivers and customers. Don’tDrive’s web-based application allows people to conveniently share their location and request a ride to arrange transport for them and/or their car.

    Scratch’d Anchor

    Team Member(s): Ryan Conner, Chaz Clark, Andrew Retallick, Erik O’Sullivan, Rebecca Day and Ashley Breyer

    Scratch’d Anchor is a company that takes retired or unusable sailboat sails and turns them into products such as bags, wallets, and accessories. Our ability to take off as a company lies in our low production costs and highly driven team of entrepreneurs that crave the taste of success. Using material that is obsolete helps keep our costs down. Strategically positioning ourselves with our three target markets, oceanic enthusiasts, fitness fanatics and “green” millennials, helps us make healthy profits.


    Team Member(s): Anurag Kulkarni, Erik Miannay and Kripash Shrestha

    Tutology is a peer-to-peer marketplace platform that aims to assist college students taking difficult courses in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, by connecting them with fellow peer-tutors at their university—think the ‘Uber of tutors’. The platform will solve a critical issue occurring across universities: the lack of advanced tutoring for upper-level classes at an affordable rate. Tutology will assist in connecting independent tutors with students through a web-based application where the platform will facilitate one-on-one or group study sessions for specific upper-level classes.

    Under Par Indoor Disc Golf

    Team Member(s): Rachel Willis and Omar Ziadeh

    Under Par intends to build and operate an indoor disk golf course, bar and pro shop in Reno, Nevada. Our goal is to elevate the name of Disc Golf. Disc Golf is a rapidly growing sport with a market that has exponential growth potential. Reno is windy with weather that is not always conducive to active playing year-round and Under Par, Reno’s first indoor disc golf course, solves that problem.

  • 2018 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2018 Winner: FitnesSpiral

    Team Member(s): Megan Price, Marketing
    Team Mentor: Matt Westfield

    FitnesSprial is a social health tech company consisting of a physical workout machine and accompanying app. FitnesSpiral seeks to create a positive outcome from social media addiction. Our company was created to address the immense issue of not only social media addiction, but also obesity and the corresponding medical issues that accompany this epidemic.

    Read more about the winner in the NevadaToday article.

    2018 Finalist Teams

    Finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of judges on March 11th, 2018 at the Innevation Center. Learn more about the finalists in the 2018 competition.

    Financially Fit Employees

    Team Member(s): Kimberly Greenman, Ph.D., Sociology
    Team Advisors: Dr. Yvonne Stedham, Kurt Frolich and Kelly Northridge

    Financially Fit Employees (FFE) offers a variety of coaching and support services that improve individuals' financial decision making. FFE offers scientifically sound and clinically tested support services to improve employees' financial decision making, thereby increasing employee financial wellness. 

    Helix Gear USA

    Team Member(s): Loren Montague, Mechanical Engineering and Ryan Schmid, Mechanical Engineering

    Helix Gear USA is in the business of designing and manufacturing innovative equipment and systems for outdoor camping. Their initial entry into the market is their Mobile Adventure Platform, which is the basis for their modular storage system while also providing a sleeping platform. Their designs strive for strength, light weight, utility and durability.


    Team Member(s): Erik Randall, Electrical Engineering, Trevor Madden, Electrical Engineering; Matthew Bauters, Electrical Engineering; and Alex Ford, Electrical Engineering
    Team Mentors: David Redfern and Dr. Thomas Burnham

    Perf-ic is an electrical prototyping and design firm. Perf-ic provides three services: rapid prototyping solutions, product support, and competitive edge reverse engineering. Perf-ic provides customers the advantage of rapid electronic prototyping to give customers an edge in their own respective market.

    WAVE Motors

    Team Member(s): Santosh Balajee Banisetty, Ph.D., Computer Science and Engineering; Ashish Kumar Kasar, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering; and Manish Jain, Ph.D., Material Science
    Team Mentor: Matt Westfield

    WAV Electric Motors (WAVE MotorsTM), is a social start-up for profit that is committed to accelerating clean transportation for masses. India's vision is to make the country all-electric by 2030. Our mission is to aid the India government is its ambitious and noble dream by putting EVs on the road. Our products are high energy efficient electric motorcycles for our niche market segment.

  • 2017 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2017 Winner: eBravium

    Team Member(s): Cody Grimes, MBA candidate

    Screen time and school grades can be inversely related and this creates big problems at school and home. Parents and teachers are sometimes tricked into thinking "edutainment" is a scientifically-backed learning strategy. The reality is few research-based studies have found positive correlations between screen-based learning games and academic performance. Recent international test scores reveal that US children's math scores are plummeting while their screen time is exploding. Simultaneously, parents struggle to manage their children's screen time.

    eBravium gamifies access to smart devices in a novel way to help kids think and learn faster-initially with Math Facts aligned with Common Core. Literally, we suspend access to the smart device's fun stuff (i.e. Angry Birds, Minecraft, etc.) making access contingent upon answering questions correctly. We call it our "learn-to-earn" philosophy and it's delivered through a phone/tablet interface (with a simple download from the app store).

    The exciting underlying science led to a grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research program. Our proprietary algorithms parachute the adaptive questions into the device at the optimal time of learning relative to the reward creating a new generation of artificial intelligence. Because we tap into the reward circuitry of children's brains we are exploiting powerful neurotransmitters so the children learn at fast rates. It's all protected by five patent applications covering a broad base. Once we complete our pilots under the NSF grant, we will launch our product through partnerships under a freemium-based subscription.

    Read more about the winner in the NevadaToday article.

    2017 Finalists Teams

    Salty Snail

    Team Member(s): Arthur LeVesque

    Salty Snail Studios, LLC is an indie mobile entertainment software startup. In 2014, founder and veteran video game developer, Arthur LeVesque, began tinkering in mobile video game development. One evening, Arthur's wife's 12-year-old cousin called about a game idea which came to him in a dream the night before. Thinking this would be a great way to get to know his extended family and learn how to develop a mobile game, Arthur began developing this child's dream in-between working full-time and getting his Master's in Business Administration. As time went on, Arthur became engrossed with the project. With the unwavering support and guidance from his friends and family, Arthur produced one of the most innovative and intuitive mobile entertainment experiences around. Scheduled to launch for iPhone in Canada in Winter, 2017 and the United States in Spring, 2018, Salty Snail Studios hopes to captivate and inspire the casual indie mobile gaming community with a child's dream turned to reality, Spider DiveTM.

    New Paths

    Team Member(s): Logan Parsley, Zenon Post, and Kyle Sundland

    New Path's mission is to create a client centered environment for homeless youth ages 18-24 that empowers them to accomplish life challenges by providing housing, programming, and continued support.

    Their plan is to create a new facility where the youth live and receive services.  All clients will have a case manager with services available to them including: counseling, social emotional learning, life and job skills training, trauma informed care, and social services on site. This model gives clients a full wrap-around service.

    The goals of this plan are to better the individual and the local community.  The individual benefits from services provided of housing and learned skills to become a self sustainable person. Tax payers, agencies, and the community save money through the youth's increased personal productivity and less reliance on community services.  Reducing youth homelessness in this way is a win-win.


    There is nothing worse than going to a restaurant and ordering bad food.  If this happens a customer feels like they have wasted their money and time. Often a customer has to rely on advice or trial and error to find good dishes on a menu. (EatRank) is a food sharing and review platform for specific dishes at restaurants. When deciding what to eat, EatRank is the restaurant goers best friend.  The application will provide a crowd-sourced detailed view of a restaurant's menu, complete with ratings and user reviews of each dish. Any user can upload their own rating, review, and photograph of a dish they have experienced. This information will be viewable by other users on the platform so others can make informed decisions on what they should eat in their area. Restaurants can also create profiles to gather feedback on reviews and ratings to improve the food that they serve. Consumers and Restaurants will be empowered with data for a better eating experience. EatRank will revolutionize the way people look at restaurants and how they decide what to eat.

    Blue Radiate

    Blue Radiate is a Reno based startup creating software that will help PR agencies and large corporations have a larger, more effective impact through the media.

    Blue Radiate aims to help PR professionals find relevant reporters by crawling millions of data points to find, sort, and rank journalists according to the relevance to a campaign. PR professionals will be able to streamline their workflow by using Blue Radiate to find the right reporter for a campaign, send them the right pitch, and measure the results.

  • 2016 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2016 Winner: Instally

    Team Member(s): Ryan Klekas, MBA candidate

    On March 30, 2016, the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition announced the fifth winner of the 2016 competition. Instally, founded by MBA candidate Ryan Klekas, is trying to alleviate the difficulty of finding parking near universities. Klekas is working on quickly expanding to west coast universities in a short time to dominate the market. The $50,000 prize will be used primarily to build out the technology.

    To read more, check out the Nevada Today's article.

    2016 Finalist Teams


    Team Member(s): Dakota Ward, mechanical engineering; and Anthony Fernandez, mechanical engineering

    Fraktion aims to create physical kiosks for customers to insert cash and convert it to Bitcoin and potentially other cryptocurrencies. 

    Hana Energy LLC

    Team Member(s): Chase Houston, MBA candidate; Mohamad Masoumi, MBA candidate, Ph.D. candidate in material science

    Hana Energy is designing and manufacturing anodes for use in lithium ion batteries using graphene and silicone for vastly improved performance. 

    Helmet Neuro Protection Technology

    Team Member(s): Chase Houston, MBA candidate

    Helmet Neuro Protection Technology aims to use 3D printing to help create a revolutionary helmet that is lighter, more comfortable and reduces the probability of concussions and/or traumatic brain injury.

    Ucraft Brew

    Team Member(s): Spencer Lewis, business; Brad Humphreys, business; and Tanner Johnson, business

    Ucraft Brew allows novices to advanced brewers to create a custom beer online that will be shipped directly to them. 

  • 2015 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2015 Winner: Nevada Dynamics

    Team Member(s): MacCallister Higgens, Erik Edgington

    Team Mentor: Beau Keenan

    Nevada Dynamics is a hardware and software safety solution for unmanned autonomous systems. They aim to create a way for smaller companies to make use of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones) by cutting through regulatory and technical roadblocks.

    2015 Finalist Teams


    Team Member(s): Keith Szelagowski, Steven Keim

    Team Mentor: Bernard Bach, Mark Spano, Rosalind Sadleir

    Using Bluetooth, Adaption seeks to build sensors for easier management of smart-home technology to monitor security, gardens, lights, temperature and more.

    Burn Ready

    Team Member(s): Meghan O'Neill, Adam Sousa, Jonathan Sarmenta, Peter Sifers

    Team Mentor: Matt Westfield

    BurnReady is building a web-based service that allows people to buy or rent custom, eco-friendly packages of supplies for Burning Man and other Reno/Tahoe events.


    Team Member(s): Ilias Apostopoulos. Antonios Zarafonitis; Jordan Blocher, Rohit Patil

    Team Mentor: Eelke Folmer

    Navatar will develop a cost-effective system to help visually impaired students find their way in campus environments.

  • 2014 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2014 Winner: Irrigo

    Team member(s): Brian Blair, MBA candidate

    Irrigo is developing water efficiency services for flood irrigated agriculture using flood gate automation, field surveys, various water and soil sensors, all connected to the cloud; to model the most efficient way to irrigate a field. Agriculture is a $5.3 billion business in Nevada, yet the state is the most arid in the country. 

    2014 Finalist Teams

    Dragonfly Energy

    Team member(s): EMBA students Sean Nichols and Denis Phares, and mechanical engineering doctoral student, Justin Ferranto

    Dragonfly Energy is a Reno-based technology company focusing on affordable energy storage solutions for a wide variety of moderate-power applications. Through a combination of innovative product development and research development, Dragonfly Energy aims to make lithium ion batteries more widespread in markets dominated by lead acid batteries. 


    Team member(s): David Maine, graduate student in economics and Mark Hubbard, University microbiology doctoral graduate

    DxDiscovery is hoping to improve local competitiveness in the global knowledge based economy with their local biotechnology company that offers further economic development and growth in northern Nevada. "The mission of DxDiscovery is to improve global health and well-being through development of antibody-based diagnostics and therapeutics," David Maine, graduate student in economics and DxDiscovery business manager, said. 


    Team member(s): Garret Gunter, information systems and computer science major; Jordan Worley, MBA student and Lino Carnesecca, information systems major

    Fitify seeks to offer men's clothing, through a monthly subscription from small and medium size clothing companies, along with established favorites, without the hassle of shopping. 


    Team member(s): Shaun Davidson, computer science major; Wilson Wanene, MBA student; Leslie Williams, MBA student; Jillian Ouellette, marketing major; Clint Borchard, business management major

    Leaf2Skin has created a unique, holistic skincare line that soothes common dermatological issues such as eczema, psoriasis, dry skin and shingles by using all-natural organic ingredients. 


    Team member(s): Cris Ruggieri, computer science and engineering and international affairs major; Chase Carthen, computer science and engineering major and Justice Colby, computer science and engineering major

    Muse aims to change how a conductor practices with its software. Conductors are not able to practice their conducting as musicians can practice their instruments. Many conductors spend hours practicing in the mirror and must visualize their imaginary orchestra. 

    Wasted Eyewear

    Team member(s): Julian Sander

    Wasted Eyewear's goal is to make highly functional sunglasses out of recycled, reused material for the creation of a unique product and the betterment of the environment. 

  • 2013 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2013 Winner: EscaZyme

    Team Member(s): Jennifer Ott, Grad Student, MBA; Rubi Figueroa-Teran, Ph.D.; Claus Tittiger, Ph.D.

    EscaZyme Biochemicals is a specialized chemical company that manufactures component chemicals for use in the insect control industry. EscaZyme produces through a new process discovered by researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Because of this new process, the chemicals are produced faster, cheaper and with higher purity than processes currently in use.

    2013 Finalist Teams

    ElectroVentures, Inc.

    Team Member(s): River Jangda, Senior, Management & Marketing; Brad Cabanilla, MBA; Richard Corn, Junior, Accounting & Finance; Hayreddin Ceker, Masters in Computer Science

    ElectroVentures, Inc. (EVI) is a company that specializes in products for the $4 billion electronic dance music industry. EVI currently operates an ecommerce site that sells clothing and accessories for music festivals, concerts and raves. The company plans on being the number one company in the electronic dance music market by having the freshest product offerings and multiple revenue streams including an ecommerce site, scaled vending operations selling products at events across the nation, and a complete media department to create original content.


    Team Member(s): Clint Borchard, Senior, Business; Vicki Bischoff, Senior, Communications; Mallory Fisher, Senior, International Business; Farahida Jamaluddin, Grad Student, Accountancy; Adair Melendez, Senior, Mechanical Engineering

    Envirohaven manufacturers a self-sustaining, efficiently designed permanent home; easily assembled anywhere. Our simple structural design solves extremely complex problems for people who are required or desire to live without access to public utilities.

    The Mental Health Hub

    Team Member(s): Cassandra Snipes, Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology; Olga Cirlugea, Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology; Alexandros Maragakis, Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology

    Mental health care plays a large role in the promotion of an efficient health care system and has been trailing behind primary care in promoting quality care. Currently, an internet-based electronic resource that provides the tools necessary to promote quality mental health care to both the public and provider does not exist. This business' objective is to build a website that will allow access to evidence-based mental health information, that directs the public towards electronic health treatment information, provides a directory and rating of therapists, and also supplies an electronic heath record for providers.


    Team Member(s): Pedram Rostami, MS Mining Engineering, Ph.D. Candidate Geo-Engineering; Christian Theumer, Graduate Student, MBA; Jon Fox, MS Mining Engineering, Ph.D. Candidate Geo-Engineering; John Miller, Freshman, Applied Mathematics

    TERRANAMIC is a cutting edge mining consulting start-up equipped with innovative tools and a dynamic team to improve overall mine employee safety and health while reducing operating costs. Ten years of development and millions of dollars of investments in our advanced Integrated Parameter Computational Fluid Dynamics (IPCFD) modeling algorithm has allowed us to view transient simulations of air flow systems and contaminant dissipation of turbulent flow in any confined environment or underground openings in a great deal of accuracy. Our algorithm improves efficiency by up to 35% measured in cost reduction while increasing overall employee safety.

  • 2012 Results

    Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition 2012 Winner: Mining Environmental Technology and Services

    Team Member(s): David Karr, Physics; Bryan Rainwater, Physics; Ben Sumlin, Physics; Heather Zunino, Physics

    METS will develop, produce, and market optical instruments to detect potentially harmful airborne particulates in mining work places.

    2012 Finalist Teams


    Team Member(s): Kelsey Plank, Chemical Engineering; Zachary Karmiol, Materials Science and Engineering; Morgan Vonnahme, Chemical Engineering; Brannon Orr, Chemical Engineering; Arianna Rosen, Chemical Engineering; Bradley Moakler, Chemical Engineering

    BoxFeeds is dedicated to encouraging breweries to focus on sustainability by converting waste products from the brewing process to viable products for other markets. 


    Team Member(s): Keaton W. Cooley-Rieders, Business 

    Entropy Fuel Systems is an idea dedicated to reshaping the direction and progress of ethanol production in the United States and around the world. 


    Team Member(s): Clint Borchard, Business Management; Vicki Bischoff, MBA; Manpreet Kaur, Accounting; Shaun Cameron, Communication Studies and Information Systems; Adair Melendez, Mechanical Engineering

    Envirohaven will revolutionize the "Green" housing industry by manufacturing self-contained, energy producing, and efficiently designed home packages that can be easily assembled anywhere. 


    Team Member(s): Justin Yang, Electrical Engineering; Felicia Groso, Electrical Engineering; James Malone, Business; Victor Morrow, Electrical Engineering; Cho Yu Chong, Electrical Engineering

    GrabiTech will manufacture, package, and distribute the Tag n' Grab notification system: software and hardware designed to aid consumers in keeping track of their personal belongings. 


    Team Member(s): Brett Shaffner, Information Systems and International Business; Chelsea Hejny, Marketing; James Eckvahl, General Studies; Wesley Clary, Chemical Engineering

    Modphalt Green Asphalt Technology encapsulates ground tire rubber (GTR) particles with a polymer to create a solution in the asphalt roofing industry. 

    2012 Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition Statistics

    • 74 teams submitted an "Intent to Enter" in February.
    • 35 teams submitted "Preliminary Overview" business plans in mid-March.
    • 6 teams were selected on April 2nd as Finalists to compete for the $50,000 Grand Prize