More than $77,000 given to student entrepreneurs in 2017 New Venture Competition
The seventh annual New Venture Competition took place Friday in the Education and Human Services building. A total of 29 student teams competed: 24 from Central Michigan University, four from Michigan Technological University and one team with members from both universities.
More than $77,000 was awarded to seven different teams.
Michigan Tech senior Nick Dubiel won $30,000 for Best Overall Venture with an idea for his company, Multi Dimensional Manufacturing, and its product, “The Metaloid.”
Dubiel, who received help from fellow MTU student Morgan Crocker and mentor Jim Baker, said he never believed he would win the cash prize.
"I was not expecting to do as well as I did in this (competition)," Dubiel said. "I got a lot of new decisions to make, but it will be fun, because I didn't anticipate any of this."
“The Metaloid” is an improvement on the nozzle-based material delivery hardware used in most 3-D printers. By using three nozzles of varying sizes as opposed to the standard one-size nozzle — and also using temperature-sensing technology — Dubiel said his product can print eight-times faster than conventional 3-D printers on the market.
Dubiel said he originally wanted to develop his own 3-D printer, but decided to innovate once he discovered inefficiencies in current 3-D printing technology. Dubiel plans to sell his product to other companies for prices starting at $3,300.
He believes his New Venture funds will be a huge benefit to his startup.
The New Venture Competition is hosted annually by the College of Business Administration in partnership with Isabella Bank. Since the first competition in 2011, New Venture has turned a total of 45 student entrepreneurial teams into functioning businesses.
In addition to the $30,000 grand prize, Dubiel and Crocker received a certificate granting them a year's worth of mentoring and advising from the Blue Water Angels investment company.
More than 70 volunteer judges participated in this year's New Venture. The winner of the Best Overall Venture was chosen by an 11-person panel of finalist judges, including Ron Beebe, principal owner of Euclid Industries and founding member of the Blue Water Angels.
Beebe said judges determined the winner based on presentation skills, the potential for profit and the passion teams had for their project.
"I think the passion that (Dubiel) has for his product was probably the most significant factor," he said. "I invest in people. I think (Dubiel) is very smart, and he's incredibly passionate about what he's doing, plus it's a good product."
Scrappy Technologies won the $10,000 Best Tech Venture award for their app “Guarded,” along with the $1,000 judge's choice and $250 audience choice awards in the Two-Minute Pitch competition. Scrappy Technologies, comprising CMU seniors Bryan Caragay and Hailey Polidori, had won first place at the Make-A-Pitch Competition in December.
Unplugged Outfitters, represented by Jordan Bruursema, a fix-termed faculty member of Recreation, Parks and Lesisure Services Administration, and senior Dylan Banagis, won the $10,000 Best Social Venture award.
Plant Life, represented by senior Cody Jelinek and Zach Chludil, won the $10,000 Most Impact on Michigan Award, along with the $500 second-place award for the Two-Minute Pitch Competition.
Rounding out the top three with the Multi-Dimensional Manufacturing team were the Go-Spot and Rate Gigs LLC teams. Go-Spot won the $10,000 Korson Family Highest Growth Potential Award, and Rate Gigs won the $5,000 Best Lifestyle Venture Award.
Even for teams that didn't win funding, New Venture was a valuable opportunity to build experience and meet new people.
"It's been a great day," said Matthew Skornicka, presenting for Great Lakes Pet Food. "It's a great connecting experience. I talked to so many investors and people with decades of experience. They've given me more than any $30,000 check could."