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* 2008F ES Competition

Local Student-Entrepreneurs Win Thousands in Seed Funding


Contact info: Robert W. Hyers (hyers [at] ecs [dot] umass [dot] edu | 413-545-2253)

October 27th 2008, Amherst, MA – The UMass Amherst Entrepreneurship Initiative (UMass EI) awarded thousands of dollars in seed capital to aspiring student entrepreneurs through its fifth Executive Summary Competition which is sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance. This semester, the competition drew an unprecedented fifty entries with business ideas ranging from retail ventures to high tech internet start ups. The five finalists competed for $5000 in prize money including $500 awarded to the “people’s choice” selected, appropriately enough, by the audience.

The mission of the Umass Entrepreneurship Initiative is to inspire students to explore entrepreneurship and additionally provide catalyzing resources to those with the passion to follow through.

1st place honors and $3,000 went to Juniper Ledge Creations, an aspiring organic gin company. The founders, Caitlin Strack and Claudio Santoro, who both have experience in the food and beverage industry are hoping to capitalize on the current trends in the spirit industry to provide an organic alternative to the current gin offerings focusing sales on local restaurants and bars. This business is a recent startup, with one product in development.

2nd place and $1,500 was awarded to SPEX. SPEX is a startup service company enabling realtors and home inspectors to address questions about energy efficiency quantitatively. This web-based business will use proprietary software to generate site-specific reports that will readily indicate specific areas of inefficiency. SPEX is made up of Palmer Yurica and Briana Tomboulian.

Three companies received honorable mention.

  • Adam’s Critter Crackers is a concept-stage company that is developing oyster crackers shaped like sea creatures. The founder, Adam O’Neill, is currently experimenting with recipes and shapes such as starfish, scallop shells, sand dollars, horseshoe crabs, sea horses, and lobster claws. Adam’s Critter Crackers was awarded the $500 People’s Choice Award.

  • Golden Cordial Company creates quality liqueurs, utilizing the healing properties of plants, in order to promote pleasure, happiness, and health. Golden Cordial focuses on using sustainable and ethically grown ingredients that support family farms, enhance local economies, and promote a healthy environment. The company, operated by Rebecca Golden and Ben Riseman, is actively developing and perfecting several recipes.

  • Apera Ethanol is a concept stage company that is actively pursuing patent protection for a proprietary technology for producing ethanol. Their technology is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than current methods. In addition, the technology is compatible with cellulosic ethanol processes as well as corn and cane ethanol.

The competition's judges were: Baer Tierkel – retired VP of Marketing at PeopleSoft, John Kole of Merrimack Capital, Gary Martinelli of Martinelli Discenza, John Fabel of Sun Ethanol, and Tom Porter of the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

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 can earn academic credit. Additionally, they receive opportunities to win prize money, and are connected to mentors. The program is sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, the UMass Amherst College of Engineering, and EI Alumni.



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