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Startup Teams Win More than $36K in Regional Business Competitions

April 19, 2017

Startup teams from the University of Idaho continue to score top honors and cash to help fund their business ideas, bringing home more than $36,000 from regional business competitions this spring as they gear up for this weekend’s Idaho Pitch competition, sponsored by the College of Business and Economics. 

UI teams faced fierce competition in Boise at the annual Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge March 30-31, but ultimately won two of the four categories and the Trade Show Pitch. Seven of the 24 teams who competed were from UI: Blue Collar Virtual Reality, Grid Defender, Kairos Community, Puzzle Modular Housing, Style Her Empowered, The Forever Shower and The Right Cart.

Every team received at least $300 in prize money. Top winners were:

  • First place, Social or Cultural Impact – Style Her Empowered, $15,000: Payton McGriff, Idaho Falls, College of Business and Economics (CBE).
  • First place, Health and Healthy Living – The Forever Shower, $10,000: Chad Vorse, Moscow, and Edward Hall, Eagle River, Alaska, both of the College of Engineering (ENGR); Maria Horta Vorse, Moscow, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS); and Alex Boatman, Lewiston, CLASS/CBE.
  • Honorable mention for Table Top Display – Puzzle Modular Housing, $1,250: Jacob Middleton, Meridian, and Matt Dieckmann, Idaho Falls, both of ENGR; and Misty Blyleven, Moscow, CBE.

Following up on their success at the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge in Boise, 12 UI teams traveled to Spokane for the April 13 Northwest Entrepreneur Challenge, the largest collaborative business plan competition in the region. Several teams were among the winners and earned significant seed money to help launch their businesses:

  • First place – Style Her Empowered, $7,000: Payton McGriff, Idaho Falls, CBE
  • Third place – Polymorphic Games, $1,000: Kirsten Way, Boise, CBE; and Samantha Heck, Post Falls, ENGR.
  • Third place – Barrel CRM, $1,000: Hannah Tagliaferro, Coeur d’Alene, CBE.

All the University of Idaho startup teams returned to campus with valuable feedback, new mentors and networks, and determination to implement what they learned in the next phase of competition.

“Each year, students from nearly every college on campus compete with innovative ideas, perfecting their business models and technology and winning significant seed money at these events,” said George Tanner, director of the Idaho Entrepreneurs program. “The support and funding our Vandals receive helps them move beyond the classroom and launch new businesses and create jobs.” 

The teams will pitch their startups on Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, in the annual Idaho Pitch competition at UI. 

Media Contacts

Emily Linroth
Marketing & Communications Manager, College of Business & Economics

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, a research and Extension center in Twin Falls, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to more than 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference and Sun Belt Conference. Learn more: