The Startup Challenge was developed to seek new, independently proposed ventures in the conceptual, or startup stages to encourage entrepreneurship in Eastern Kentucky. The event was held in collaboration with the Kentucky Innovation Network.
Fifteen teams submitted written plans for a chance to compete for $5,000 in prizes. The eight most comprehensive plans were chosen to attend the event and to present their ideas to a panel of judges.. The four highest scoring teams were selected as finalists to present again to decide the winners.
“Interest in this event and entrepreneurship is continuing to grow in our region,” said David Snow, D.M., director of the Kentucky Innovation Network Pikeville office and founder of the event. “Being open to everyone in eastern Kentucky, the competition generated creative ideas from high school students, students from other colleges and even entries from nonstudents. I believe the participants and the judges fully enjoyed the experience, and we look forward to planning the next competition for this coming April.”.
Team UPLift took home first place and the $2,500 prize. Team members Alan Abshire, Chelsi Lawson, Josh Martin and Deanna Wellman are developing an inflatable jack to make it easier to repair and lift off-road vehicles in a variety of terrain.
The second place award of $1,500 went to the MTrack Mobile team of Billy Curry, Terri Hunt and Georgene Robertson. They created a mobile software application for tracking oil usage of heavy equipment. The software will be used to address the problem of environmental damage due to oil leaks.
Compression Company with Misty Adkins, Celena Conley, Brittany Hodge and Gabe Penn earned third place and a $1,000 award with their idea for a hybrid compression and no-slip sock for hospital patients who are at risk for slips and falls.
The University of Pikeville has partnered with the Kentucky Innovation Network in establishing an Innovation Network office in Pikeville. From assisting startups in assessing an idea, to developing a business plan, to finding grants, loans and capital, the Kentucky Innovation Network helps local entrepreneurs and local companies discover the resources needed to be successful. The Pikeville office operates in UPIKE’s Community Technology Center and serves the nine counties of Breathitt, Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Perry and Pike.
Article by David Snow, Pikeville Innovation Network Director