Winning the Day @ Global Venture Labs in Austin, TX

The following was announced and written by Nathan Lillegard, Center Director for the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship on May 9, 2015:

I am pleased to share news about a successful campaign by our students from the Oregon MBA and Oregon Law School at the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition (formerly MOOT Corp) this past weekend at the University of Texas at Austin.

For the first time ever the University of Oregon placed 2 teams in the semifinal round. To put that in perspective, there were 33 teams that started the competition on Thursday, with 10 advancing to the semis. That’s 20% of the top 30% representing the UO – not bad! This is the best showing for our program at this competition in many years. I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts.

Our teams:

Airfit – Second year MBAs Cynthia Sandall and Ty Manegold have brought a concept to life. The idea, fitness facilities in airports behind TSA, is simple. The execution of the concept and the actual market launch of the concept is quite complicated. I applaud their tenacity of research and the way they’ve leveraged every possible LCB class project to gather amazing customer research and build a great plan. You will see the first location in SFO within a year and JFK shortly thereafter. They’ve made this real and are launching. Bravo!

Cricket Flours – Charles Wilson (2015 JD) and Omar Ellis (2015 MBA), with help early on from Paul Butler (JD/MBA) successfully pitched their cricket based protein powder business to the judges in a way that focused on their deep understanding of customers, the business model, and their markets while far overcoming anyone’s “You want me to eat what?” objections. Their best customer validation? How about a half dozen or so orders from judges and other competitors over the past 2 days? They have a rapidly growing business that will be a great success story.

I thank the many staff and faculty members who have helped our teams develop into poised and confident entrepreneurs. Specifically, I want to thank Allan Cochrane, my co-instructor for MGMT 625 and the Venture Startup courses. Al has logged many miles and hours helping prepare ‘investor ready’ teams. Additional thanks goes to Michael Crooke and John Hull who have given these teams countless tips and spent a good deal of time coaching them individually and as teams. I should also recognize the contributions of Randy Swangard, who was in attendance as the head of the GVLIC rules committee and without whom the program to do all of this wouldn’t exist. Every faculty member who has taught any class to these fine students should give themselves a pat on the back, as the overall education of our students is outstanding and it shows when we’re up against some of the brightest minds in the world and come out successful.

Although their journey ended in the semi-finals (the competition is tough and only 4 of 10 teams advanced) I am 100% confident that we’ll soon have two more inspiring stories of Oregon MBA led student startups. Success at these competitions shows the depth of research they’ve done and their commitment to making their ideas real. At the end of the day, that’s why we (faculty and staff) do what we do – to inspire students to be the best they can be and reach higher than they might think they can. That is Winning the Day, that is what we do.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.