Parker Declercq and Oscar James Loyd, two undergraduate students at the University of Nevada, Reno, took home this year’s $50,000 grand prize at the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, a program of the College of Business, for their company TreaTea.
Declercq, an information systems major and entrepreneurship minor, and Oscar Loyd, a business management and international business major and entrepreneurship minor, started their company to help people around the globe improve their mood, sleep, focus and energy. 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.” With the Sontag Entrepreneurship prize, Declercq and Loyd plan to build their business further and continue to create products that provide customers with an enhanced tea experience.
“The feeling of winning the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition is incredible and so satisfying because it not only validates all of the hard work that we have put in, but it also shows the faith that the judges have in our business plan and pitches,” Loyd said. "We have worked countless hours on this company and the experience overall was amazing."
The Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition finals took place Thursday, April 30 via Zoom and featured three student-led competition teams all aiming to turn their business dreams into a reality. This is the first time in nine years that the major event transitioned to an online setting.
“The need to transition to an online competition was unexpected,” Richard Bartholet, director of the Ozmen Center, said. “However, the students and judges did an excellent job overcoming the obstacles and still put on an amazing competition.”
This year’s competition included 22 diverse student-led teams comprising of 42 students from 21 different majors and six different colleges, and boasted three Ph.D. candidates, six master students and one doctorate of medicine student. Also, this year Holland and Hart LLP donated $5,000 to the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship to further support the Sontag competition.
“We had three outstanding finalists this year coming from a variety of backgrounds,” Bartholet said. “The judges had a very challenging decision to make when selecting the winning team. In the end, they determined that TreaTea had created and communicated the most persuasive business concept through both their written business plan, their video clip (new this year) and their online final pitch presentation.”
As part of the competition, a number of local entrepreneurs provided guidance and advice to the teams competing. According to Bartholet, the high-quality business plans and virtual presentations received this year reflected this support. Bartholet also said that he expects a number of these teams will launch and/or grow businesses that will be successful additions to the northern Nevada economy.
Alongside TreaTea, two other teams presented their ideas to the judges. The finalists included:
- Socobot, a game designed to help educate children about machine manufacturing, mobile robots and the STEM fields.
- DrinkMode, a product design and manufacturing company that has perfected the 2-in-1 cup holder that allows consumers to carry multiple beverages from concessions to their seats with ease.
The Sontag Entrepreneurship Award is made possible by a major gift from University alumnus Rick Sontag. The $50,000 award is presented each spring semester to the winning team to help fund the expansion of their business.