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Student entrepreneurs pitched their business ventures on Nov. 14 to a panel of experts at the annual Alta Resources for Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Culvers’ Business Model Competition while competing for $50,000-plus in cash and prizes.

UWO alumnus and Culver’s chairman of the board of directors and co-founder Craig Culver ’73, joined the festivities sharing his entrepreneurial journey while celebrating the students’ creativity.  The panel of expert judges for the evening’s competition included:

  • Ethan Bagley, innovation director of J. J. Keller & Associates
  • Zack Pawlosky, founding investor and fund manager of Atlene
  • John Beré, vice president-strategy and care service line of Alta Resources
  • Adhira Sunkara, manager of innovative ventures of WiSys
  • Barb LaMue, executive director of New North

Taking home the top prize was political science and anthropology major Abbie Merrill and political science major Ian McDonald, both of Oshkosh, for their innovative mobile app Prexo. The app allows people to stay current on political happenings by sending users notifications when the president signs executive orders.

Additional winners:

  • Second Place: Tap Tech
    Economics major Dakota Swank, of Byron, Minnesota.
    Tap Trap is an automated beer dispensing trailer decked out with tablets and RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology to monitor beer pouring that also serves as POS software.
  • Third Place: Grace Farms LLC
    English major Kaila Vander Wielen, of Kimberly.
    Grace Farms LLC is a long-term residential therapy farm for survivors of human trafficking. In addition to group and solo therapy sessions, residents will spend their time making soap and growing organic produce on a sustainable farm.
  • People’s Choice Award: Divine Beauty LLC
    Nursing major Becca Dailey of Omro.
    Divine Beauty LLC provides beauty services that include eyelash extensions and freelance makeup for weddings, senior pictures and other special events.

Other finalists:

  • Business major Noah Bauer, of Neenah | GiftHop a gift “search engine” that searches millions of different websites to find the hottest-selling items to help you find the perfect gift for any situation.
  • Business majors Hannah Beyer, of Watertown, and Evan Meyers, of Watertown | N-Fit Company, which uses NFC (near-field communication) technology to place ‘tags’ on gym equipment that wirelessly transfer information to your device, making it the fastest and easiest way to learn about an exercise.
  • Master of Business Administration student Bakary Ceesay, of Fond du Lac |  Smart Rental Vehicles or simply “Smart Rental” is an airport-based, peer-to-peer car-sharing service and it’s set to re-imagine the way car rentals are handled in this country.
  • Business major Travi Huss, of Neenah | has been doing research for eight years on privacy and surveillance and is driven towards being the number one company in privacy and fighting corruption.
  • Associate of Applied Science student Stephany Perez, of Fond du Lac | Steph’s Wholesale Liquidation sells liquidated items: kitchen, baby, bedding, outdoor sports, toys, household small appliances and more for the cheapest price possible.
  • Anthropology major Austin Phillips, of Oshkosh | Ardent Fitness and Education helps youth be more active through exercise while also providing teachers that will tutor and assist with school work.

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