Students compete in international startup competition

March 6, 2018

Rachel Librach

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    Students will compete in Get In The Ring Colorado on March 12. Hosted by the El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization, the event will allow student entrepreneurs to pitch their business ventures in five 30 second rounds.

    Thomas Duening, El Pomar chair for Business and Entrepreneurship, said that the venue is set up like a boxing match with a blue side and red side. Entrepreneurs face off in the ring and must answer a series of questions from the judges.

    According to Duening, the competitors’ main objectives are to answer the judges’ questions within the time limits and as accurately and concisely as possible.

    “The way you perform in that period of time is going to determine whether or not you do well,” said Duening.

     The audience is given red and blue glow sticks, and at the end of the rounds, the audience can vote with their sticks which business pitch they liked best.  

    This year, one UCCS student team has applied to compete. Team members include Meghan Lunday, freshman computer science major; Lee Haider, sophomore marketing major; Andrew Stevenson, sophomore business administration major; and Elijah Salberg, sophomore game design major.

    The team will compete with Trofapp, an app that connects community members who share similar interests over food.

   The app provides another option for a social platform to meet people outside of traditional forums, according to Lunday and Haider.

   “Everyone kind of struggles with finding people to eat with, especially for sit-down restaurants. Once you get out of college and have a full-time job, it’s a lot harder to make friends in an organic way that doesn’t feel like you are trying too hard,” said Lunday.

    “It’s not dating; it’s completely based on finding friendships. It’s like a social network app that will help you add other people to your group of friends or introduce you to new groups with similar interests,” said Haider.

    Lunday and Haider were both in an entrepreneurship class last semester and worked together for five months to develop a business model for their class project. By the end of the semester, they decided to form a team and further develop their business.

     Although the application process for Get In The Ring Colorado was extensive, Haider and his team are looking forward to competing.

    “I sat in the crowd last year, and this year I wanted to be involved with it,” he said.

    “I think this event is important because a lot of kids just might not have the self-confidence to do it, but when they can actually see other kids doing it, it makes them want to get involved.

    Five Dutch entrepreneurs started Get In The Ring Colorado in 2012 as a way to revolutionize the venue for business pitches. The event is a is a global startup competition that gives individuals the opportunity they need to present, grow, and capitalize on their business venture.

    Michael Larson, El Pomar endowed chair of Engineering, competed as part of Get In The Ring in the Netherlands. Larson enjoyed the concept of the competition and registered with the franchise to organize the first Get In The Ring in Colorado last year.  

    According to the international guidelines for the Get In The Ring competitions, the application pool cannot be limited to local or in-state entrepreneurs. For this year’s competition, Duening has received applications from not only local businesses in Colorado, but also from Cyprus, Jamaica, Canada and all over the United States.

    “These are some pretty hefty companies. According to the rules, we cannot limit this to local ventures or student ventures; we have to let the world know we are here and they come at their own expense to compete here,” Duening said.

    The winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the finals, which will be held in Portugal. Thegoal of the competition is to identify the top companies in the world.

    “The people that attend the events, at the international level in the finals, are mostly investors. The idea is that if you shine you will probably get a pretty good chunk of the capital that you need,” said Duening.

    Duening strongly advocates that students attend this event to not only learn about what innovative ideas are out there, but to also get inspired to startup their own business.  

    “(Students should come) to watch and learn. There are going to be some really talented people up there that are going to be nervous, but they are going to do it anyway. And that’s the thing, I think a lot of people sometimes cower or they think that they can’t achieve at that level, but they can, everybody can,” he said.

    “Sometimes we are our own worst enemies because we predict that we can’t do it, but we have to surprise ourselves once in a while.”

    Stevenson explained that this competition is much bigger than a simple UCCS event.

    “It’s no longer just an idea. You are actually going out in the real world and competing with actual people to make this business a reality. You have a voice, you can make an impact,” he said.