Winners Take Home $100K in Cash Prizes From TCU’s Socially Conscious Business Competition

The event pitted the teams in a two-day competition that produced nine winners, two special place awards, and six awards for the Elevator Pitch.


Hundreds of college students on teams from 56 universities around the world gathered last weekend at Texas Christian University for the annual Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Competition, all competing for a total of $100,000 in cash prizes.

The two-day competition for socially conscious businesses produced nine winners, two special place awards, and six awards for the Elevator Pitch.

The team from American University in Washington, D.C., took home the grand prize of $40,000, with the University of New Mexico taking the second place prize of $25,000, and the home team from TCU earned the third-place price of $15,000.

This year’s competition was the ninth for the program presented by the TCU Neeley Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the TCU Neeley School of Business and co-founded by Dallas real estate and technology entrepreneurs Nancy Tartaglino Richards and Lisa Barrentine of First Preston HT.

More than 50 entrepreneurs, investors, and bankers were judges, including finals judge John Henry, host of the VICELAND show “Hustle” and honored as Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur.

Here are the winners:

Grand Prize, $40,000: American University

The team from American University won the grand prize for Celise, which produces biodegradable alternatives to plasticware and straws made with cornstarch and almost identical in feel and performance as plastic. Pointing out that there 56,000 pounds of plastic waste were produced this year alone, American University student Cameron Ross told the judges: “While we can’t solve the problem, we can manage it,” with Celise’s cornstarch products. The company donates 5 percent of profits to composting in developing countries.


[Photo: TCU]

Second Place, $25,000: University of New Mexico

The sister team from the University of New Mexico won for EasyFlo, founded by Alissa Chavez, an affordable bottle to eliminate the hassle of mixing bottles on the go and reduce waste from the 60 million plastic baby bottles sold annually. The company offers a give-and-get program for people to donate bottles.


TCU Neeley business students Mavis Tang, Maddie Kingsbury, and Devan Peplow [Photo: TCU]

Third Place, $15,000: Texas Christian University

TCU won for Sounde, a hearing app developed by a TCU science and engineering professor with a proprietary algorithm that breaks apart sounds and pieces them back together so only certain frequencies are heard, according to a person’s hearing prescription. The app performs in milliseconds so the person hears in real time. The app is aimed at the 49 million people in the United States who suffer from hearing loss. 

Honorable Mention, $2,500: Johns Hopkins University – Relavo uses PeritoneX technology for a novel disinfecting system that reduces the risk of infection for patients using at-home dialysis. 

Honorable Mention, $2,500: Loyola Marymount University – MobieDock, solar-powered charging and docking stations for e-scooters, reduces clutter while providing sustainable charging.

Honorable Mention, $2,500: University of Houston – AquaFix Solutions uses a NASA-patented chemical solution to increase water recovery in desalination plants.

Honorable Mention, $2,500: University of Texas at Austin – Sun Co. Tracking produces lightweight, affordable, non-electric solar trackers powered by memory shape alloys for home solar panels to track the sun more efficiently.

Honorable Mention, $2,500: George Washington University – Last Call is an online platform for restaurants to discount and re-sell surplus food at a low cost, to reduce waste and provide affordable meals.

Honorable Mention, $2,500: Auburn University – SOstraws are premium, affordable, reinforced paper straws that resist sogginess.

Founders Award, $5,000: San Diego State University – SOULMUCH rescues thousands of pounds of unused rice from restaurants and converts it into flour for delicious cookies. The winner was chosen by the competition’s co-founders, Nancy Tartaglino Richards and Lisa Barrentine, Dallas real estate entrepreneurs.

Elevator Pitch First Place $1,250 and the Marjorie and James Sly Innovation Award $2,500: California Polytechnic State University – De Oro Devices produces Gaitway, the first retrofit solution that attaches to any cane/walker to prevent freezing of gait for people with Parkinson’s.

Elevator Pitch Second Place, $750: Michigan State University – BRITE Bites is an all-natural probiotic snack.

Elevator Pitch Third Place, $500: University of California-Irvine – CenSyn Pen is a pocket-sized EEG pen to quickly assess brain damage at the scene of accidents.

Elevator Pitch Honorable Mention, $250: University of Strathclyde (Scotland) – Tremodent is a toothbrush that uses motion stability technology to enable people with Parkinson’s to brush their teeth.

Elevator Pitch Honorable Mention $250: Bangladesh University of Professionals (Bangladesh) – Prothoma produces reusable sanitary napkins that are antimicrobial, high-absorbing, and comfortable, to reduce disease and infertility from women in the lower socio-economic pyramid.

Elevator Pitch Honorable Mention $250: University of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio) – Sinzuca Chocolates uses a dark chocolate bark that is organic, sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan.

Teams from the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson and from Southern Methodist University in Dallas competed, also.

Here are all the 2019 participating schools:

American University

Auburn University

Babson College

Bangladesh University of Professionals

Brigham Young University

California Lutheran University

California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo

California State University-San Bernardino

Federal University of Technology, Nigeria

Ferris State Univ/Kendall College of Art and Design

Fort Hays State University

George Washington University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Grand Valley State University

Iowa State University

Johns Hopkins University

Lake Forest University

Loyola Marymount University

Miami University of Ohio

Michigan State University

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Northern Kentucky University

Northwestern University

Oklahoma State University

Quinnipiac University

Saint Leo University

San Diego State University

Southern Methodist University


St. Mary’s University

Syracuse University

Texas A&M University

Texas Christian University

United States Air Force Academy

University of Arkansas

University of California-Irvine

University of Delaware

University of Florida

University of Houston

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Missouri-Kansas City

University of New Mexico

University of Oregon

University of Pennsylvania

University of Strathclyde, Scotland

University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Dallas

University of Incarnate Word

University of Virginia

University of Waterloo, Canada

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Walsh University

Warsaw School of Economics, Poland

Wartburg College

Washburn University

Washington University in St. Louis

West Virginia University




3 DFW Universities will Vie for $100K in TCU’s Values and Ventures Competition

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