Each year, students from the University of Nevada, Reno compete for a chance to win $50,000 to help fund their innovative business ideas. Out of the 22 teams that initially entered to compete in the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, six were chosen as semi-finalists. Given social distancing requirements, each of the semi-finalists were asked to submit video presentations in addition to their written business plan. For the finals, the teams will be doing a three-minute elevator pitch, followed by up to 10 minutes of Q&A about their pitches, written business plans and videos.
The Judges for the finals include Sara Lafrance co-founded and 23 year veteran of CAI, where she served as president; Wendy Alderman, a mentor with the Summit VMS program at the Innevation Center; and David Hartman a corporate executive offering more than 25 years of operational expertise including organizational restructuring, strategic planning and budgeting oversight.
University alumnus Rick Sontag created the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition with his $1 million gift to the University in 2011. The endowment created by the gift funds the award in perpetuity. The award is a single prize of $50,000, given at the end of each spring semester to the winner of the competition, which takes place throughout the academic school year.
"We are thrilled with the work these teams have put in this year and with the level these students are performing at thus far," Richard Bartholet, Sontag Competition director, said. "Though this competition is housed in The College of Business, it really has become a University-wide contest as we had 42 students from 21 majors and six colleges at the University fill out our ‘intent to compete' this year. Including three PHD candidates, six master’s degree students and one Doctorate of Medicine candidate."
The six student-led team semi-finalists are:
● TreaTree tea company that manufactures specialized tea bags that help with mood, sleep, focus and energy.
● 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 allowing consumers to carry multiple beverages from concessions to their seats with ease.
● Valivest, a SaaS (software as a service) company that specializes in stock market research platforms.
● ChillTech, a business aiming to design, develop, and market technologies in the electronic computer internal peripherals field, specifically cooling systems for computers.
● Uni-Cycle aims to act as a profitable and government independent business dedicated to converting post-consumer plastic material into commercially viable products, utilizing environmentally friendly recycling methods.
For more information, visit the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition website.