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$179,000 in Cash Awarded at 2017 Baylor New Venture Competition

March 24, 2017

Grow Bioplastics

- Team from University of Tennessee, Knoxville Takes Home First Place -

The 6th annual Baylor New Venture Competition, hosted by Baylor University’s John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship in the Hankamer School of Business, offers aspiring student entrepreneurs from universities across the globe, expert feedback, coaching, and a total package of over $275,000 in cash and crucial in-kind business support services, to help make dream ventures a reality.

The multi-round business plan competition, culminating in a two-day Finals event, brought 12 teams of student entrepreneurs to Baylor’s Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation in Waco, Texas, on February 24-25, 2017, to compete for awards designed to propel their businesses to the next stage. More than 100 judges - industry professionals, entrepreneurship faculty, serial entrepreneurs, angel investors, and other experts – were involved throughout the process to provide feedback and coaching to the teams. 

“Companies vying for spots this year come from both non-technology as well as technology industries, and showcase the passion and perseverance of startup and early stage student entrepreneurs,” said Dawn Maitz, director of the Baylor New Venture Competition. 

All of the 12 finalist student teams received financial rewards and industry connections to help them take the next steps on their entrepreneurial journeys

Top Three Award Winners

Top three award winners of the competition were:

  • First Place: Grow Bioplastics - University of Tennessee, Knoxville - $60,000

    Grow Bioplastics creates value from waste. Its first product is a biodegradable for use in plastic mulch films and containers for farms, greenhouses, and nurseries. It is made from lignin, a renewable waste product of the paper and biofuel industry. 

  • Second Place: MITO Material Solutions - Oklahoma State University - $35,000

    MITO Material Solutions sells adhesive epoxy additives which allow manufacturers to double the durability or significantly decrease the weight of composite materials utilized in the aerospace, recreation, and automotive industries. 

  • Third Place: RHOBACK Activewear - University of Virginia, Darden School of Business - $20,000

    Rhoback is a new breed of high-end active wear for men who crave activity. 

"The Baylor New Venture Competition is uniquely Baylor with an emphasis on mentoring, expansion of business storytelling and presentation skills. Seasoned successful entrepreneurs and investors provide valuable counsel about making money and accelerating growth," Maitz said.

Jeff Beegle, of Grow Bioplastics, said, “The experience was great. The Baylor team and the volunteers did a fantastic job to make the event run smoothly. The facilities at Baylor were excellent as well. The fact that each team had their own "home base" room is a little detail that often goes overlooked in other pitch competitions but it helps the teams remain organized and calm during a highly competitive event like the Baylor NVC.”

Dell Award

Dell, in its second year as title sponsor of the competition, also awarded a $12,500 cash prize for the “Most Innovative Use of Technology.” The 2017 winner of this award, StudyTree from Drexel University, using AI technology, acts as a mobile academic advisor to students, offering personalized recommendations and services, and providing customized learning pathways toward improvement of academic performance.

Power of Business Award

The Power of Business Award, new to the competition this year, honors a student business that demonstrates a strong commitment to using the power of business to solve a social or environmental problem, generates a positive “return to society,” or impacts the environment in an innovative way. Dr. Marlene Reed, Professor of Entrepreneurship, who is actively involved in similar student-run ventures at Baylor University, presented the $6,000 cash award.

The winning team, Redcedar Products from Oklahoma State University, turns the eastern red cedar into a resource by extracting products that are used in chemotherapy medication. A company spokesman said, “Our team was extremely impressed by the organization that Baylor’s business school put into this event. This was a great opportunity to learn from the experienced mentors and judges who generously donated their time to attend the event. Additionally, the opportunity to see how our plan stacked up against other teams was a great benefit. The teams that made it to the final rounds of the Baylor competition were some of the best in the country, and we were honored to be among them.“

RealFoundations Award

David Stanford and Lauren Stokes of RealFoundations, presented a cash award in the amount of $5,000.  

acion, llc, from the University of Louisville, won the RealFoundations Award. acion protects residential and commercial properties from water damage due to clogged air-conditioning drain-lines through a patent-protected device that connects to, and automatically delivers an environmentally-friendly biocide treatment into, an air conditioner’s (HVAC) drain line to kill algae before it clogs the line.

Elevator Pitch

Leslie Garza and Erin Bell, representing sponsor Pariveda Solutions, presented cash awards and trophies to the winners of the Elevator Pitch Competition, conducted during the welcome banquet. Determined by live audience vote, the winners were:

  • First Place: Grow Bioplastics (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) - $1,500
  • Second Place: Pocketutors (Baylor University) - $1,000
  • Third Place: MITO Material Solutions (Oklahoma State University) - $500

Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention awards of $1,500 each went to the following teams:

acion, llc -- University of Louisville

FroYo Xpress -- Purdue University - Main Campus

Pocketutors -- Baylor University

Redcedar Products -- Oklahoma State University

StudyTree -- Drexel University

Supervize -- North Carolina State at Raleigh

SwineTech, Inc. -- University of Iowa

Twazer -- Claremont McKenna College 

Wavio -- Brigham Young University

A Surprising Twist

Maitz said she was happily surprised by a last-minute offer.

“We were contacted by an individual, who chose to remain anonymous and who said that he and his wife wanted to do something special for all the competitors,” said Maitz. “He and his wife were so impressed by the competition and the quality of all the finalist teams, that they decided to donate an additional $2,000 of financial support to each of the 12 competing finalist teams!”

acion, llc -- University of Louisville

FroYo Xpress -- Purdue University - Main Campus

Grow Bioplastics -- University of Tennessee, Knoxville

MITO Material Solutions -- Oklahoma State University 

Pocketutors -- Baylor University

Redcedar Products -- Oklahoma State University

RHOBACK Activewear -- University of Virginia – Darden School of Business

StudyTree -- Drexel University

Supervize -- North Carolina State at Raleigh

SwineTech, Inc. -- University of Iowa

Twazer -- Claremont McKenna College 

Wavio -- Brigham Young University

“The Baylor New Venture Competition taught our team a great deal about the value of telling our story. When we revised our pitch after the feedback sessions and really got to see the understanding in the audiences faces, we realized that Baylor had given us the confidence and the advice to deliver our business proposition so that everyone could understand the value. Overall, the competition had a lasting effect on our company because of the honest and rigorous feedback we received,” said Haley Marie Kurtz, of MITO Material Solutions.

About Baylor Business

Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective. Recognized nationally for several programs, including Entrepreneurship and Accounting, the school offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study, as well as Ph.D. programs in Information Systems, Entrepreneurship and Health Services Research. Visit and follow on Twitter @Baylor_Business.

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


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