Dawson Lamb, Akram Reshad, Gurjant Mand, Jacob Teems-Robinson and David Haulot, five undergraduate students at the University of Nevada, Reno, took home this year’s $50,000 grand prize at the tenth annual College of Business Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition for their company MyKar, LLC.
MyKar is a pick-up and delivery service designed to help automobile owners, struggling from prolonged and put-off maintenance, easily solve their automotive service difficulties. MyKar aims to bridge the relationship between customers and automotive service providers through their convenient and innovative application.
Along with the Sontag Award, MyKar also won the first Dragonfly Energy Innovation Award, a new $10,000 prize funded by Sean Nichols and Denis Phares, co-owners of Dragonfly Energy. Nichols and Phares, who were finalists in the 2014 Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, were so deeply impacted by their experience in the competition that they vowed to one day give back to the College and future Sontag competitors.
“Being selected as winners of both the 2021 Sontag Award and the new Dragonfly Energy Innovation Award is just absolutely surreal,” Lamb said. “I think as a team we just feel as though all the hard work and dedication that we put into not only this competition but the business itself thus far has been realized. I know I am really proud of our team and the effort that we all put in.”
When asked what the Sontag competition has meant to them, the MyKar team said the following:
- “The Sontag competition has allowed us to develop our company and grow as entrepreneurs,” Haulot said. “The knowledge that we have learned and the experience that we have gained is something that we will forever value and will be key to our future success as a company.”
- “The Sontag competition changed my entrepreneurial outlook by putting textbook knowledge into real-life experience,” Teems-Robinson said. “Being able to apply the concepts and ideas in this competition made everything come full circle for me in my business education at the University.”
- “For me, the Sontag Competition was always seen as a huge building block to becoming the next great startup out of Reno,” Lamb said. “This competition allowed us to refine our business, sharpen our ideas, evolve as presenters and has allowed us to connect to investors, advisors and other entrepreneurs in the area.”
The Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition finals took place Thursday, April 29 via Zoom and featured five student-led teams all aiming to turn their business dreams into a reality.
This year’s competition included 26 diverse teams, comprised of students studying in the following fields: accounting, business, computer science, community health, economics, entrepreneurship, environmental science, finance, general education, higher education administration, information systems, journalism, marketing, materials science and engineering, MBA, mechanical engineering and social work.
Alongside MyKar, four other teams presented their ideas to the judges. The finalists included:
- 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.
- Team: Hunter Jablonski and Thomas Setnan
- Secura Technologies, a reliable tracking and asset monitoring service for equipment in construction and closely related industries.
- Team: Porter Rittenhouse
- SheTrek, a travel and tour service with the goal of providing women with a safe, worry-free and empowering travel experience.
- Team: Alyssa Cova and Sienna Bates
- 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.
- Team: Jacob Mwanza and Hamza Asumah
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.