An online tool for small organizations that rewards donors with coupons and discounts won out over 27 other socially conscious for-profit business plans at the Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition at TCU this weekend. The George Washington University team of Dylan Fox and Zachary Herman presented the entrepreneurial concept for Crowdvance an online fundraising tool for small organizations such as youth sports teams, student groups and small nonprofits that rewards donors with discounts, coupons and other deals from partner companies. The first place finish at the competition hosted by Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University, earns them $15,000. The team from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., won second place and $10,000 for their plan for SoundSense, a home communications system for the hearing impaired that provides visual or physical alerts to oven timers, doorbells, baby monitors, phone calls and fire alarms through an integrated system. Andrew McGregor thought up the idea to help his hearing impaired parents. Third place and $10,000 went to the team from TCU, Molly Johnson and Brooke Bettis, for Sneez4, tissues in environmental packaging with a part of proceeds allocated by the consumer to one of four causes: Alzheimer’s Association, Wounded Warriors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Feeding America. “We are proud of what we’ve accomplished and hope to make this a viable business in the near future,” Molly said. Fourth place and $1,000 went to Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., for Virtue and Veneration, a paid service (initial offering free) to family and close friends of American soldiers killed in action that places flowers on gravesites and records virtual cemetery tours for those who live far from the cemetery. Fifth place and $1,000 went to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio for One World Training, employing veterans to provide qualified police training in Honduras to increase local police competency and deter rising crime rates. Sixth place and $1,000 went to Chapman University, Orange, Calif., for SunChild Collective LLC, a curated online marketplace for trendy fashions and goods created by artisans around the world, combined with a mission to support artisans in their trade. A special Founders Award of $2,500 each went to University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, for REVIVE, a recycling company that gathers coffee grounds from the coffee/hospitality industry to produce a 100 percent organic fertilizer; and The University of Tampa for Ambrosia Global, which franchises fully contained, sustainable agricultural production systems (aquaponics) to food-insecure areas to provide localized food production through a scalable system.
“As a world-class, values-centered university, this competition is truly a sweet spot for TCU and the Neeley School, promoting innovative entrepreneurial startups which add value and meaning in important ways,” said O. Homer Erekson, John V. Roach Dean of the Neeley School of Business at TCU. Other teams taking part were from Appalachian State University, Baylor University, Grand Valley State University, J. J. Strossmayer University (Croatia), Monterrey Institute of Technology (Mexico), Regis University, Royal Roads University (Canada), Samford University, Southern Methodist University, Syracuse University, University of Arkansas, University of Florida, University of Houston, University of North Texas, University of Oklahoma, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Villanova University, Wake Forest University and Walsh University. Thirty judges participated in the two-day competition. Judging the final competition were Elliott Hill, president of Nike North America; Stacy Steimel, managing director and head of Latin American equities for PineBridge Investments; Paul Spiegelman, chief culture officer for Stericycle; Jan Norton, coach, author, speaker and angel investor; and Chris Kraft, president, CEO and co-founder of Splash Media.