From autopilot drone technology to 3D-printed homes, a number of student-led startups took home funding at the University of Texas at Arlington’s annual MavPitch Business Competition.
Through the university’s Maverick Entrepreneur Program and Award Fund, which aims to help students explore and execute business ideas, five startups took home a collective $61,000 from the program’s capstone competition.
“We award serious money because we want the students to take the competition seriously,” said Jeffrey McGee, Maverick Entrepreneur Program organizer and associate professor at the university’s College of Business Department of Management, in a statement.
Selected from nearly 50 submissions
The winning companies were selected from a batch of nearly 50 submitted video pitches and mark the class of 2021’s completion of the seven-week program. It involves pitches, mentorship, and business planning formulation through a program created in partnership between UT Arlington and nonprofit entrepreneurial support organization TechFW.
The Maverick Entrepreneur Program and Award Fund was established in 2018 by an anonymous alumnus to encourage UT Arlington students to explore and execute their business ideas. Since its inception, more than 700 students have participated in the program.
At the 2020 MavPitch event, which took place last September due to COVID-19 delays, six startups took home a collective $85,000. The top prize of $25,000 went to Hashira Studios, an anime-inspired clothing studio founded by Jaqueline Gomez and Julio Sanchez. The second-place prize of $15,000 went to two companies—Clarissa’s Custom Costumes, a full-service costume business, and Soirée, a meal-kit delivery service for special occasions.
And this year’s winners are…
- Apex Robotics ($15,000): A developer of autopilot software for drones for uses in industrial and public safety operations, founded by Kashish Dhal.
- Von Perry ($15,000): A 3D-printing homebuilding and design startup led by CEO and Co-founder Treyvon Perry that kicked off its first construction project of a 1,700-square-foot, three-bedroom house in the Collin County city of Nevada.
- Harbor ($15,000): A company looking to streamline the homebuilding process using pre-built concrete modular construction technology, launched by Bodie Chisum and Ryan Scott.
- Blueplan8 ($10,000): A designer and maker of hydrogen-powered drones, created by Mahinder Singh, that says its drones are able to fly for up to six hours.
- Outside the Box ($6,000): An after-school day care service that focuses on technology overuse in kids. Created by Jacob Liston, the company says it plans to engage children with “natural opportunities” to develop social skills.
This MavPitch competition was judged by a panel of UT Arlington alums, including Nikole Dickman, founder of Envoy Financial; Anthony Grisset, founder of Grissett Enterprises; Molly Sandlin, founder and president of CAET Project Management Consultants; and Tyler Sickels, founder and CEO of SolGro and winner of the inaugural MavPitch competition.
Accepting applications for next MavPitch
According to the UT Arlington College of Business website, the program is currently accepting applications for its next round of pitches and a chance to compete for up to $40,000 in funds, with a deadline for submissions on April 29.
“We hope to strengthen and grow that entrepreneurial spirit at the university,” McGee said. “Students have to be sharp. They have to adequately and succinctly pitch their startup business ideas, including the business’ profitability.”
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