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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


New venture competition pays dividends for Eller students


Amelia Klawon of team Co.Host shakes hands with Chris McGuire, director of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, after winning the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship’s New Venture Competition and Showcase grand prize of $10,000 in McClelland Hall on Friday. 22 teams of students competed throughout the day for $45,000 in cash and prizes.

Friday marked the conclusion of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program with the New Venture Competition and Showcase in McClelland Hall.

Students and staff viewed the booths of 22 teams that spent the year preparing a product or service and learning how to ready a business venture for pitching to investors. Teams competed for $45,000 in cash and other prizes.

“It is the culmination of a year’s work,” said Mat Friedman, a senior studying business management and entrepreneurship.

The event was the last chance for the teams to practice pitching their business ventures to students, staff and judges. The day began with a trade show, as Entrepreneurship Program students set up booths to show off the work they’ve done. Each team came up with a unique product or service that may be marketed after the program ends.

“From here, those who choose to launch, will,” said Brianne Lieber, administrative specialist at McGuire.

McGuire has a history of producing teams that take their ideas beyond the classroom and into the market. Park Genius is a smartphone app that lets drivers pay for parking spaces without the hassle of dealing with parking meters, and MistoBox is a boutique coffee subscription service personalized for each individual subscriber. Both products came out of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program.

After the morning trade show, the teams entered an auditorium to give their “rocket pitches” to a panel of judges. These judges narrowed down the number of remaining teams to six, who would compete in another round of rocket pitches later that afternoon.

The New Venture competition is in partnership with Connect Coworking and Swan/Starts, two local businesses dedicated to helping startups in Tucson. Swan/Starts offered six months of free rent in a fully furnished office to one of the teams, along with mentoring and IP services.

Connect Coworking also offered six months of free space in its offices to a team of its choice. According to Emerson Budd, operations manager at Connect Coworking, the package has an estimated $12,000 value. The requirements were for the recipient to stay in Tucson and to develop their business in town.

For graduate students, this means “an opportunity to network and collaborate with other professionals,” Budd said.

The judges’ final deliberations led to the awards ceremony, where the winners were announced. The Co.Host team took first place, taking $10,000; RIO and Stride took second and third, winning $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.


Follow Erik Kolsrud on Twitter.

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