UMass Student-Entrepreneurs Win Thousands in Seed Funding from the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation and Receive Offers for Investment from Local Angel Investors
February 21st 2007, Amherst, MA – Yesterday the UMass Amherst Entrepreneurship Initiative (UMass EI) awarded thousands of dollars in seed capital to aspiring UMass Entrepreneurs through its third annual Executive Summary Competition. In a surprising turn of events, one of the judges, Glenn Hanson, offered to personally invest in two of the companies: Channel Design International and Rentabilities.
The event organizers' hope is to inspire students to explore entrepreneurship and then provide catalyzing resources to those with the passion to follow through.
1st place honors and $2,500 went to Channel Design International, a team developing the ABLER for athletes who have undergone knee surgery and want to maintain physical fitness. With the engineering analysis completed, the company is looking for funding to build a working prototype to achieve further milestones. Team members are: Lynn M. Crevier, Nishita Nickey, Ching Hung, and Michael Pescatore.
2nd place honors and $1,000 went to Rentabilities (www.rentabilities.com). This company positions itself as "the Orbitz of Rent-A-Centers." Their software provides an efficient web reservation system alongside a back-end inventory management system. Their software is web-based; businesses and customers can connect to the system from anywhere in the world. A "beta" prototype of their product is now being tested with several potential customers. Team members are: Alexander Cook and Andrew Cook.
3rd place was a three-way tie between three teams, each winning $500.
4TWK (www.4twk.com) is a web-based music and culture magazine that has built a sizable and loyal fan base over the past two years and will soon organize local music and culture events. The company is led by Caleb Oakland, Cory O’Brien, and Stephen Kelley Jr.
Engineered Response is a concept-stage company looking to imbed distress beacons into bicycle and motorcycle helmets that would automatically call for help in the event of serious injury. Team consists of Brycen Spencer, Manny Barros, and Luis Barros.
Extreme Action is a concept-stage company looking to bring safe, innovative outdoor recreation activities to the Pioneer Valley and beyond. The company currently consist of one student: Michael Piccirilli.
The competition's judges were: Tomas Kennedy (a manager at United Rentals), Joe Cambi (a member of the River Valley Investors – a Springfield angel investor group), and Glenn Hanson (immediate past chair of the River Valley Investors).
The seed capital was provided by the generous support of the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation (www.hgcf.org). The foundation has also extended an opportunity to all the contestants to participate in their banquet, which is taking place on April 25th. At the banquet, students from colleges throughout Western Massachusetts will have an opportunity to make more connections with business leaders and possibly win additional funding.
About The UMass Amherst Entrepreneurship Initiative (umassei.org):
The UMass Amherst Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) mission is to help students turn ideas into businesses. The organization inspires students to explore the entrepreneurial career path, trains them in how to evaluate their ideas, and then connects them to the resources needed to take the first steps in starting their own business. Students participating in EI's program earn academic credit, opportunities to win prize money, and are connected to mentors. The program is sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, UMass Amherst School of management, the UMass Amherst College of Engineering, and EI Alumni.