The UMass Amherst Entrepreneurship Initiative Awards Thousands in Seed Funding to Aspiring Entrepreneurs.
March 27th 2008, Amherst, MA – Last month, the UMass Amherst Entrepreneurship Initiative (UMass EI) awarded thousands of dollars in seed capital to aspiring Student Entrepreneurs through its fourth Executive Summary Competition which is sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance. For the first time since its inception, the competition drew contestants from several of the local five colleges with the grand prize going to rookie entrant Jessica Harwood of Smith College taking the top prize award of $2000.
In addition to the standard prizes awarded, Josh Golder, UMass EI Alum and successful serial entrepreneur sweetened the pot by sponsoring an independent contest in which the five finalists each received an additional $400 in seed capital. In a surprising turn of events, Vin Cardillo, a past judge of the competition and an active supporter of EI, offered to double the prize money on the spot, meaning each team received a total of $800 in additional start-up cash.
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 $2,000 went to FEAST which is a local food delivery service, allowing customers to order meat, fish, dairy, produce, and prepared meals fresh from farms in the Pioneer Valley area. This business is still in the conceptual phase, with an intended start date of June 1, 2008. Team members are: Jessica Harwood and Molly Snedden.
2nd place was a two-way tie with each team winning $1,000.
- Engineered Response is a concept-stage company that is developing a crash activated emergency beacon that can be used in all helmets. The company has secured preliminary funding through competitions and investors. The technology currently has a patent pending and a proof of concept prototype is soon to be complete. The team consists of Brycen Spencer and assorted advisors.
- Golden Cordial Co. creates quality liqueurs, utilizing the healing properties of plants, in order to promote pleasure, happiness, and health. It is important to us to use sustainable and ethically grown ingredients that support family farms, enhance local economies, and promote a healthy environment. Currently, this company exists as a hobby in a kitchen. Team member are Rebecca Golden and Ben Riseman.
3rd place was a two-way tie with each team winning $500.
- Auto Scout is a service business where the customer fills out specifications for the vehicle they desire, and Auto Scout goes to “dealer-only” auctions to purchase the vehicle for the best possible price for the client.
- Micro Tissues, Inc. is a company selling scientific tools to the international biomedical research community and big pharmaceutical companies. Their main product is the three dimensional (3D) tissue culture dish or 3D Petri dish. Their 3D tissue culture dish is made of agarose, a natural product derived from seaweed. Micro Tissues, Inc. plans on becoming the leader in 3D tissue culture products by offering the most superior and effective technology. Micro Tissues, Inc. as a business is still in the concept stage, but as for the 3D tissue culture product that we will be offering it is real and a patent application has been filed.
The competition's judges were: Denise Dukette (Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund), Karen Rubiero (Bank of Western Massachusetts), and Al Griggs, Glen Hanson and John Cole (all members of the River Valley Investors – a Springfield angel investor group).
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.