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Finalists announced for inaugural Burgess New Venture Challenge

The Burgess New Venture Challenge, or BNVC, announced the finalists for its first annual competition. A collaboration between Spartan Innovations and the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, BNVC is an early-stage pitch competition bringing together student entrepreneurs and small business supporters from across Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to celebrate Michigan State University’s entrepreneurial spirit and highlight top talent.

BNVC finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges at 5 p.m. on April 17 at the Wharton Center. Selected teams will compete for the chance at over $40,000 in total cash prizes. The competition’s top prize, sponsored by the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, is $15,000.

“BNVC is more than a competition,” said Ken Szymusiak, managing director of the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Our goal is to create a valuable learning experience for student entrepreneurs here at Michigan State.”

Merging two pitch competitions, GreenLight Michigan and the Broad Business Model Competitions, BNVC requires interested students to complete a battery of workshops, receive feedback from business leaders and mentors and form collaborative teams around submitted ideas.

“We wanted to create a program that culminates in a competition where students spend time refining their ideas, building their skills and taking interesting risks that lead to innovation,” said Paul Jaques, director of student and community engagement at Spartan Innovations. “The BNVC celebrates a year of hard work for these finalists.”

BNVC Finalists are:

  • BioSolution Innovations LLC, which helps professional plant growers make smart technology. 

Team: Traverse Jurcisin, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Josh Murray College of Engineering, and Jonathan Ristola, College of Law.

  • Brightside Coffee Co., LLC, a mobile pop-up café serving events in and around the Greater Lansing and Grand Rapids areas. 

Team: Marisa Weyn, College of Arts and Letters, and Hunter Shoemaker, Eli Broad College of Business.

  • Burgundy Labs, a software development company aimed at innovating the technology used on college campuses. 

Team: Charlie Kolacki, Eli Broad College of Business, and Trevor Murphy, software developer for Cengage Learning.

  • Classii LLC, which serves as a social learning network aiming to strengthen the academic community. 

Team: Simeon Goolsby, College of Engineering, and Cam Korzeck, College of Engineering. 

  • Crown Mallard, which is solving the problem of disposable glove cross-contamination. 

Team: Austen Malczewski, Eli Broad College of Business, Torre Crown, College of Engineering, and Gavin Hubbard, Eli Broad College of Business.

  • Datashapes, an applied research and product development company that designs healthcare packaging products. 

Team: Cory Wilson, School of Packaging.

  • EMAGE Technology, which is building a wireless auto-diagnostics tool to improve pipeline safety and reliability in industrial settings.

Team: Deepak Kumar, College of Engineering, and Saikat Modal, College of Engineering.

  • HealthOpX, which serves as a one-stop shop for people traveling internationally seeking health services. 

Team: Wesley Ma, Eli Broad College of Business, Katie Sydlik, College of Engineering, Jose Hernandaz, College of Engineering, and Daniel Ofori-Dankwa, College of Engineering.

  •, a business-to-business robotics company that gives customers a way to locate products in a brick-and-mortar retail setting.

Team: Wesley Berry, College of Engineering.

  • Meido, which brings artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data cost-conscious industries like casting and automotive supply chain. 

Team: Peter Ro, Lyman Briggs.

  • Perch, which is an online talent platform for academic research groups, university departments, programs and industrial R&D companies. 

Team: Han Wang, College of Engineering, and Akira Nishii, University of Michigan – College of Engineering and College of Literature, Science and Arts. 

  • Portal-OS, which allows users to centralize their digital content organizes your digital life, making it simple to operate within the complex, web-based world. 

Team: Josh Murray, College of Engineering.

  • SKOOP, which places digital advertising on a taxi fleet of electric bikes and specializes in mobility advertising.

Team: Malik Jackson, College of Engineering.

  • Sugoi Audio, a company which works to create unique electronic products while reducing e-waste from returned electronics.

Team: Sean Hansen, College of Natural Science, and Jonathan Ristola, College of Law.

  • Zonder, a mobile application that gamifies traveling and creates a unique travel profile for each user. 

Team: Demi Yang, Eli Broad College of Business, and Niki Yang, Eli Broad College of Business.


 UPDATE APRIL 18: See the winners of the inaugural BNVC.