Three UT student startup companies have been awarded a total of $35,000 to advance their businesses through the fall 2015 Boyd Venture Challenge, setting a new record for funds awarded in a single semester and pushing the total amount awarded by the competition over $200,000.
Eight businesses were selected from a pool of applicants to pitch their ideas to a panel of local entrepreneurs who determined which companies were most deserving of seed funding and how much they should receive.
“We saw an excellent group of companies this semester,” said Tom Graves, operations director of the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “The judges were quite impressed both with the variety and quality of the startups that presented. It’s exciting to see our students taking ideas and turning them into a reality.”
The fall 2015 winners are:
- T&T Scientific, $20,000
- SilkOps, $7,500
- GuruSkins, $7,500
T&T Scientific was formed earlier this year by two PhD candidates, Nima Tamaddoni, a fourth year student in mechanical engineering, and Graham Taylor, a fourth year student in biomedical engineering. The pair invented the LipX extruder, a low-cost, single-use liposome extrusion device that ensures cleanliness and sterility while reducing overall time of use from 20 minutes to three minutes. Liposome extruders currently on the market require thorough cleaning after each use, costing doctors and researchers valuable time.
T&T Scientific will use the $20,000 grant to cover the costs of manufacturing and assembling the first units. They plan to begin selling their product as early as January.
SilkOps is a software-as-a-service company co-founded by Taylor Adkins, a senior in business analytics, and Thomas West, a senior currently enrolled at Virginia Tech. SilkOps is a fully functional order management system that caters to custom printing companies, enabling users to input orders, manage production and generate invoices. Several printing shops are already using SilkOps. Adkins plans to use the Boyd Venture Challenge funding for further software development and to market the software to additional clients.
GuruSkins is an online store selling artist-designed ski and snowboard covers made out of high-quality vinyl, which enable customers to protect their board while conveying their individual styles on the slopes. GuruSkins aims to foster an online community of board-sport participants and design enthusiasts by creating an interactive online website that provides a platform for artists to share their work and financially benefit from the sale of their designs as ‘skins.’ GuruSkins is owned by Jake Rheude, an MBA candidate and Entrepreneur Fellow. He will use the Boyd Venture Challenge award to fund search engine optimization efforts and a marketing campaign ahead of the holiday season.
The Boyd Venture Challenge is administered through the Anderson Center in the Haslam College of Business. Since the fund’s inception in 2011, twenty-three student-owned companies have been awarded a total of $207,000 in seed capital to advance their businesses.
The Boyd Venture Challenge is made possible by the generosity of Randy Boyd, founder and executive chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, makers of PetSafe, Invisible Fence, and SportDog brands.