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April 10, 2015

Stanford, UNL Startups Win Global New Venture Competition

The Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration gave $20,000 to young entrepreneurs at UNL and other schools during the 28th annual Global New Venture Competition, April 9. The competition was a part of the three-day EntrepreneuringDays@UNL event that features two competitions, several special speakers and networking events connecting students with the business community. Similar to the TV show “Shark Tank,” the competition allowed 16 teams of students to pitch their business ideas for funding to a panel of business professionals who served as judges. Ten universities were represented between the competition’s two divisions – undergraduate and graduate.
Grant Gehlen, a senior business administration major at UNL from Eagan, Minnesota, was a part of the team who won the undergraduate division of the competition with Bongo Watersports, which offers life jackets with speakers and a waterproof spot to house an iPod/media device. The team advanced to the global competition after placing first in the undergraduate division of the UNL New Venture Competition on April 7. 
“We feel like our innovative life jacket can change how we experience water sports,” said Gehlen. “Presenting our business plan and receiving feedback from other entrepreneurs and business professionals has been invaluable.”
Michael Feldstein, a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University, won the graduate division with Müvr, a mobile application and wearable device that improves care for joint replacement patients. His win guarantees his team’s entry into the 2015 Global Venture Labs Investment Competition at the University of Texas at Austin. Feldstein believes the UNL competition was one of the best he has attended.
“This event has had an atmosphere of collaboration even though it’s a competition. From judges to fellow competitors, everyone has been sharing advice and lessons learned,” he said. “I would have to say the best thing about Nebraska is the people.”
The energy around talking about new ideas has one of the competition’s judges coming back year after year. Steve Glenn ’79, president and founder of Executive Travel, said this year’s competition was full of investable businesses.
“This year’s graduate division featured four of the best business ideas I’ve seen presented in this competition in my 10 years volunteering as a judge,” Glenn said. “We saw some innovative product-based business ideas that could be scalable on a national and global level.”
Theresa Welbourne, FirsTier Banks Distinguished Professor of Business and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, felt the competition was a strong finish to the three-day EntrepreneuringDays@UNL event.
“The student competitors offered a great variety of ideas that all had viable opportunities associated with them,” she said. “Through competing, listening to speakers from established and growing companies and connecting to other entrepreneurs, it has been a beneficial learning experience for everyone.”
The UNL Global Venture Competition winners were:

1st Graduate Division, $7,000 – Müvr, Michael Feldstein, Stanford University, Hillsborough, California,post-doctoral fellow in biodesign; Farzad Azimpour, Houston, Texas, post-doctoral fellow in biodesign; Andy McGibbon, Winnemucca, Nevada, post-doctoral fellow in biodesign; and Theo Tam, San Leandro, California, post-doctoral fellow in biodesign. Müvr utilizes a mobile application paired with a wearable device to optimize perioperative care for total joint replacement patients.
2nd Graduate Division, $4,000 – T&B Innovations, University of Nebraska–Lincoln  
3rd Graduate Division, $2,000 – Rodeo Analytics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
1st Undergraduate Division, $4,000 – Bongo Watersports, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
2nd Undergraduate Division, $2,000 – 3D Cycler, Josh Kosar, Arizona State University, Chandler, Arizona, sophomore robotics engineering major; and Riley Chicci, Flagstaff, Arizona, sophomore robotics engineering major. 3DCycler will take used plastic bottles and convert them into 3D printable filament for use in any filament-based 3D printer. 
3rd Undergraduate Division, $1,000 – BugEater Labs, Inc., University of Nebraska–Lincoln    
The Center for Entrepreneurship is focused on helping students learn and practice the art and science of growth. The Center’s mission is to inspire and empower UNL students to become “Startup People”, educating them to be active in creating their own future.

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