UM Student Entrepreneurs Impress at the Fall Startup Pitch Competition

Paul Gladen, winner of the competition, Don Gaumer

The University of Montana hosted its annual Fall Startup Pitch Competition on December 14, 2015, to an enthusiastic crowd at the Gallagher Business Building.  Blackstone LaunchPad (BLPUM) and the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs (MADE) hosted the event.

Nine contestants were chosen from 15 applicants, with three contestants winning total cash prizes $2,500. This group was the most diverse set of competitors to date with majors including anthropology, sociology, visual and performing, environmental studies, health and human performance, computer science and, of course, business.

The first-place winner of the competition and $1,500 was master of computer science student Evin Oser of Montana Root Applications. He pitched a smartphone application SolarScreen at The app is currently available for download on Google Play for Android for $2.99 and is forthcoming in the Apple App Store for iOS. SolarScreen detects sun intensity for your geolocation, warns you if UV rays are too high for your personal profile and then also reminds you when to reapply sunscreen. The winner of the FSPC also gets an automatic entry to the larger statewide John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge held annually at the UM toward the end of spring semester.

The award for “Most Exciting Startup Idea” went to Johanna Ciampa, a student of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Johanna put forward her idea for EthnoDance , an early-stage venture that captures dances from around the world in video form before they become extinct.  Then it delivers the content in a subscription-based web model to institutions and dance enthusiasts. Johanna was awarded $500.

Winner of the most compelling live presentation went to Graydon Myhre, management major, presented his pitch toward supporting sustainable transportation by providing a safe, cost-effective method for longboard, skateboard and scooter users to secure their boards. LongLoc uses recycled material to help organizations to avoid liability and support sustainable transportation in addition to providing greater convenience for both users and other building occupants. Graydon was awarded $500.