Five student teams will compete Thursday to win $50,000 in seed money to help turn their business ideas into reality in Colorado College's annual Big Idea competition, including last year's second-place finisher.
The competition boasts the biggest prize money of any business plan competition in the Colorado Springs area and helped launch the nonprofit Colorado Springs Food Rescue, started by the same entrepreneur who is co-founder of FoodMaven, a local startup that is trying to create a marketplace for surplus food. The Big Idea was launched six years ago to integrate innovation and entrepreneurship with the school's liberal arts curriculum by encouraging students to develop ideas for a dramatic innovation, small-business startup or social venture.
FlyPhone, a team developing a drone it hopes will turn a user's smartphone into a flying "selfie" camera to photograph athletes and outdoor enthusiasts in remote locations, won the $30,000 first prize in last year's competition.
Chica Chocolate, which is making chocolate truffles infused with Chinese herbal remedies to be delivered on a subscription basis to women to ease their monthly menstrual and hormone cycles, won the $10,000 second prize last year, and is back as one of the five finalists in this year's competition in search of additional funding.
Chica and the other finalists will make presentations to a team of five judges including Bob Selig, president of Hayward, Calif.-based Davis Instruments and a CC trustee; Kishen Mangat, general manager of mobile core and policy for Cisco Systems and also a CC trustee; Meriwether Hardie, organizational development manager for Denver-based Bio-Logical Capital, a land investment, development and conservation company; Em Havens, a senior community designer at online school IDEO U in San Francisco; and retired venture capitalist Bart Holaday.
The competition began with 19 teams in December and was narrowed to nine semifinalists in late January, who then made presentations about their ideas to a panel of experts that narrowed the field to the five finalists on Jan. 31. Chica is headed by CC junior Cassidy Lam and Elise Morgan, a University of Colorado at Boulder student. The other finalists are:
- Raw Sauce, headed by CC seniors Alex Harros and George Fowlkes, want to build a sustainable fermented foods business that uses a unique flavor to provide probiotic products such as produce through a hydroponic grow operation.
- LifExpectancy, headed by CC junior Lauren Weiss and senior Jack Hamren, is developing an iPhone application to motivate users to live healthier lives by showing how health and wellness activities affect their life expectancy.
- Momentics, headed by CC senior Alana Aamodt, junior Anna Gilbertson and Josie Eichers, a University of Minnesota student, is developing a toy kit for children ages 8-12 to build interest in science, technology, engineering and math.
- NOWZ, headed CC freshmen Deming Haines, Charlie Kellogg and Case Regan, is developing an event aggregation application that uses augmented reality to display and filter local events.
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