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More than $90,000 awarded to student entrepreneurs at New Venture Competition

Senior Berkley Edwards, left, checks the time while his teammate, senior Muslem Almuslim speaks about Fancy Life Fancy Cars, a company that buys and sells classic cars on April 13 in French Auditorium.

A total of 32 teams and more than 70 judges participated in the eighth annual New Venture Competition on April 13. 

The event, which took place in the Education and Human Services Building, gave away $94,000 in cash prizes to the student ventures that were the most impressive. 

Haley Rusicka and Emily Austin, members of Team Elemental Co. LLC, graduated from CMU in May 2017, but participated in the New Venture Competition this year and won $30,000 for Best Overall Venture. 

Elemental Co. LLC is a venture that creates thermal bras, specifically for breast cancer survivors who have went through a mastectomy. 

Rusicka and Austin, who were helped by fellow team members Agusta Overy and Susanne Wroblewski, also participated in the New Venture Competition last year. They felt the experience they had from last year contributed to this year's win, Austin said.

"There's such a difference from where we were last year to where we are this year,” Austin said. “Every time that we pitch or every time we do something, there’s something that we learn.”

The other top awards went as follows: 

  • RateGigs won the Best Lifestyle Venture for $5,000
  • Revolve Farms won Most Impact on Michigan Award for $10,000
  • Makerhub won The Korson Family Highest Growth Potential Award for $10,000
  • ReCover won the Best Social Venture for $10,000
  • Drone the News won Best Technology Venture for $10,000. 

The winners of the newly created Summer Accelerator Program Awards were Drone the News and Elemental Co. LLC. 

DaRon Turner, fifth year senior and sole member of the venture Gud Game, said that clarity was something that he learned at this year’s competition. 

“I’ve known that I’ve wanted to create this app for about two or three years now, but when I explain this app to people who are much older than myself, they don’t get it,” Turner said. “My goal was to be clear.”

Gud Game is a mobile app targeted at the competitive video game community and is meant to provide players and content creators with the tools to be able to connect locally and nationally. 

Bruce Marble, executive director of the CMU entrepreneurship department, has been helping run the New Venture Competition for four years now. 

Marble said that the students who participate in New Venture Competition all leave with valuable feedback, networking contacts and investment partners. 

“I think that everybody takes away something,” Marble said. “What the teams get varies across the whole spectrum, but everybody takes something away.”

The New Venture Competition has been responsible for helping CMU students launch their ventures. The competition has awarded more than $530,000 to help 52 student-led ventures launch over the last seven years. 

College of Business Administration Dean Charles Crespy sees the ideas that were put on display at this year’s competition driving the future. 

“These kids are going to change the face of Michigan,” Crespy said. “A lot of these ideas I think will be the products and services that Michiganders buy for decades to come."