Business Startup Challenge Finalists Named

Business Startup Finalists

March 22, 2018

Montana’s aspiring entrepreneurs include impressive students from across the state. The annual John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge hosted by University of Montana’s College of Business and the Blackstone LaunchPad at University of Montana received 27 applications from student teams across the state to compete for the over $50,000 in prize money.

A panel of judges selected 12 teams to compete on April 13, 2018, at the University of Montana. The teams will pitch their business to a panel of around 50 judges in hopes of receiving a portion of the prize money all of which is generously contributed by businesses, organizations, and individuals who are committed to the future of entrepreneurship in Montana. In its 29th year, the competition draws students starting ventures from a “pizza farm” to union labor management software. Finalists represent both the University of Montana and Montana State University, with majors that include microbiology, computer science, marketing, finance, creative writing, geography, environmental studies and mechanical engineering.

Paul Gladen, Director of of the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana, and leader of the competition’s organizing team says, “Our selection team was amazed at the high-quality entries we had this year. Selecting finalists proved difficult because the competition was so steep. This reflects the quality of education students are getting in Montana as well as this generation’s eagerness to start something that can make an impact.”

Of these diverse competitors, four finalists are selected during the day to compete for the top four prizes at the evening’s public event including the $15,000 first place cash prize. Doors open to the public event at 4:30 PM and it begins at 5:00 PM in the Gallagher Business Building. A reception will follow with complimentary food and a cash bar in the Gilkey Education Building located on the University of Montana campus. Tickets for the event are $10 (free to students). Click here to purchase your ticket

Notable previous JRBSC winners include Chilton Skis, restaurant Five-on-Black, and Big Sky Brewing.

2018 Competitors:

Crispr Communications 
Crispr Communications is a PR and Marketing firm for scientists.

Evergreen Game & Hobby
Evergreen Game & Hobby, LLC is a Montana-based company that will provide an expansive inventory of board and video gaming, comic and hobby supplies to customers in its targeted market.

Matching potentially wasted food with hungry people.

Game Ink LLC
Games Ink provides the most engaging and dynamic social card game in tabletop gaming.

Ice Viper Hockey 
A high stability street hockey puck that turns asphalt into ice.

Smart document builder for lawyers.

Mirthful Farm
Mirthful Farm will flip the model of a conventional farm-to-table restaurant by putting the tables on the farm.

Montana Outdoor Experiences, Inc.
Montana Outdoor Experiences, Inc. provides a free, easy-to-use online outdoor education and recreation events calendar, equipped with marketing tools for businesses and organizations to advertise and promote outdoor events and easy access for recreationists looking for this information.

Morphose Exercise Systems, LLC
For physical therapists seeking to increase patient compliance, the Morphose Exercise System offers a 360-degree view of home exercises with built-in accountability features that can be accessed from any computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Storysquares App 
Storysquares is a digital storyboarding app that helps K-12 students write stories and reports step-by-step with confidence.

Wage Sheets
Wage Sheets is a software as a service (SaaS) cloud platform and accounting software add-on that gives union contractors and their employees clarity and peace of mind during the hiring and payroll process.

Vaytricks helps content makers – audio producers, video producers, artists, and designers – do better work faster by providing effective flexible applications meant for the next generation of creators.