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May 19, 2023

Burgess New Venture Challenge announces 2023 winners

The Burgess New Venture Challenge, an early-stage pitch competition bringing together Michigan State University student entrepreneurs and business leaders, announces the winners of its fifth annual contest. On April 13 at the Graduate East Lansing, fifteen Spartan student teams pitched their startup ideas to a panel of expert judges. All were competing for their share of $50,000 in total scholarship prizes.

“This is my first time experiencing the Burgess New Venture Challenge, and I can say it is more than a competition,” said Laurel Ofstein, faculty director at the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “It's a motivational force. Students draw on their experiential learnings, shaping and refining their startups. We couldn't be prouder of these Spartans who've dedicated their time and talents to building something new.”

This year nearly forty teams applied to be part of the Burgess New Venture Challenge, with fifteen semifinalists rising to the top.

To qualify to compete, BNVC team members must be enrolled students at MSU (undergraduate or graduate) and be in good academic standing. Applicants must be active participants in the Burgess Institute's Discovery or Launch Programs. Once selected, semifinalists must commit to attending group practice sessions, meet with assigned venture coach mentors and demonstrate movement toward their tailored milestones. Winning ideas must use awarded cash toward accelerating their startup ideas.

These MSU student startups presented their most robust cases to 2023's Burgess New Venture Challenge judges and, as a result, took home the top prizes:

  • 1st Place: $15,000: UniServices (Adam Green, College of Law and Hemkesh Agrawal), College of Engineering.) UniServices is the Uber of odd jobs. It simplifies student-led task solutions, using a mobile and web app to connect college students to residents in their communities to complete everyday chores. 
  • 2nd Place: $10,000: Protein Pints (Paul Reiss, Eli Broad College of Business). Protein Pints is a protein ice cream supplement designed for athletic recovery and performance.
  • 3rd Place: $7,500: Reel Free (Alexander Pollack, College of Natural Science). Reel Free is a medical device that prevents falls for individuals using supplemental oxygen.
  • 4th Place: $5,000: Odin Classroom (Aman Dhruva Thamminana, College of Engineering; Rajmeet Singh Chandok, College of Engineering). Odin Classroom is an online coding platform aimed at reducing friction in computer science courses by providing a better user experience and reducing downtime.
  • 5th Place: $3,000: Complete Competitor (Danielle Hanson, College of Human Medicine). This is a business in the form of an application that caters to the mental health and well-being of student-athletes, providing 24/7 support.

The Burgess New Venture Challenge attendees held sway in choosing two People's Choice Awards. These awardees earned $1,000 each: Protein Pints and CodeBlue.

New this year, the Eli Broad College of Business’s Center for Ethical and Socially Responsible Leadership sponsored a $1,000 Social Impact Award. Representing CESRL were Beth Hammond, CESRL’s managing director, and faculty member, Dr. Jennifer Dunn. 2023’s Social Impact Award went to Motmot.

“Without a doubt, Motmot stands out as the startup with the most social good impact,” said Beth Hammond. “Sustainable access to clean water impacts us all, and Motmot offers a solution that’s well within reach.”

As is BNVC tradition, no team goes home empty-handed. Each of the remaining semifinalist teams took home $750 in seed funding.

“Our mission is centered around creating unforgettable learning experiences,” said Paul Jaques, managing director for venture creation at the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “The connections these student entrepreneurs make — with each other and with the experienced mentors, judges, and attendees from across the entrepreneurial ecosystem — is all a part of setting them up for success.”

This article was originally featured on the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation website.

By: Aaryn Richard