Students and alumni entrepreneurs from both Concordia University Ann Arbor and Concordia University Wisconsin competed for cash prizes in the sixth annual CULaunch! entrepreneurial pitch event.
In addition to alumni participants, student-entrepreneur participants included a husband and wife team from CUW, a high school sophomore, a freshman from CUAA, and a student enrolled in the Bethesda College program on the CUW campus.
The innovations were part of the University’s sixth annual CULaunch! program, in which members of the CUWAA community interested in entrepreneurship have the opportunity to learn about business basics and then create and pitch their own idea to market.
Related: Four teams receive CULaunch! prize money (2018)
“We had some really incredible teams and ideas this year,” says Dr. Daniel Sem, Dean of the Batterman School of Business and Haab School of Business. “There were 9 teams in total, in both undergraduate and graduate/alumni categories, with ideas ranging from custom chocolates and jewelry to software for the insurance industry. Very impressive I have to say! The creativity and talent of our students and alumni always amazes me.”
Entrepreneurs: Kamilla Mekhtieva (CUW ’23) and Ivan Gwyer (CUW ’23)
Company: Saturnus Designs
Business Idea: Create unique and custom wedding bands for men.
Entrepreneur: Griffin McCarley (Bethesda College at CUW)
Company: G & S Custom Art (Metal artwork/social cause)
Business Idea: Up-cycle scrap metal and tools into art.
Entrepreneur: Travis Wright (CUAA ’25)
Business Idea: Sell exclusive sneakers directly to consumers and offer unique services.
Entrepreneur: Danny Zolp (Sophomore at West Bend East High School)
Business Idea: Create a secure and centralized government ID system using Blockchain technologies.
Travis Wright takes home first place prize
After much deliberation, the judges selected Travis Wright as the winner in the undergraduate competition, and decided to split the prize money evenly between KicksandCash and second-place finisher, Saturnus.
Wright shared that he first heard about CULaunch! from his accounting professor, Amber Gray.
“Professor Gray handed a CULaunch! flyer out to all of us in class and I decided to go to the information session. I learned there what a great opportunity this would be for me since I was able to pitch my business to a venture capitalist and a lot of other business-savvy people,” says Wright.
Since participating in the business pitch event in mid-November, Wright has had an individual appointment with CUWAA’s in-house venture capitalist, Richelle Martin. He’s been invited to pitch his business to even more venture capitalists because of his impressive initiative and innovation.
Wright finds ways to invest a few hours a day to his business, balancing his busy schedule as a student-athlete, a freshman in college, and continuing to make time for friends and family. Many of his profits are going toward paying his tuition. Wright says he is going to use his CULaunch! winnings to invest in accounting software.
CULaunch! at Concordia University
The CULaunch! program is about more than just winning; it is about learning more about how to turn innovative ideas into a functioning business. For more information on the CULaunch! program, contact Dr. Sem at email@example.com.
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