Four businesses led by LSU students, representing everything from a drink that helps prevent kidney stones to a device that monitors electrical appliance usage and shuts down outlets, participated in a competition Friday for a share of a $25,000 prize.
The LSU Student Incubator Venture Challenge was a “Shark Tank” type competition, where the student companies pitched their plans to a panel of local business leaders. Eighteen of the 44 businesses in the LSU Student Incubator submitted business plans for consideration in the competition. After two rounds, the field was whittled to four finalists.
Frosted, a gourmet cupcakes store founded by Kyle Anderman, of Baton Rouge, was the big winner, receiving a check for $8,000. A Frosted retail store at Nicholson and Lee drives has been open since Feb. 29, 2012, but Anderman plans to use the money to buy a truck so he can start a mobile cupcake business. He also wants to install a cupcake vending machine on the LSU campus.
“I want to franchise this business,” Anderman said.
Econofy, which offers a device to let people monitor their electricity usage and shut off outlets in order to lower their utility bills, was awarded $7,000. The company was founded by Lauren Lee Stuart and William Wagner, both of Baton Rouge.
“This is fantastic that they offer a competition like this,” Stuart said. She plans to use the money to help patent the Econofy technology and get computer chips made for the device.
Rock Water, a company founded by Mark Moss of Shreveport, was also awarded $7,000. Rock Water makes a doctor-formulated beverage, which helps aid in the prevention of kidney stone formation. Moss plans to use the money to pay for clinical trials of the beverage at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
“This has been a really great opportunity,” Moss said. “I’ve been able to network with a lot of other businesses.”
Supedup Auto, a mobile vehicle cleaning and detailing service founded by Gary Shuford of Baton Rouge, was awarded $3,000. Shuford plans to use the money to buy a truck that will better promote his business and allow him to service customers better.
“This has been a positive experience,” Shuford said. “I’ve spent the past three weeks working on my business plan, learning everything I can to improve my presentation.”
Charles D’Agostino, executive director of the Louisiana Business & Technology Center, said the student incubator was formed to help combat the “brain drain” of students who graduate from LSU and leave for cities like Atlanta, Houston or Dallas.
“Once these people have created their jobs, they’re not going to leave this community,” he said. “This program has been proven to work in the two years since we have been involved.”
Two of the winner’s of last year’s Venture Challenge were LocalMed and Yellow Jacket. Local Med develops software that allows patients to schedule appointments through their computer, smartphone or tablet at any time with participating doctors and dentists. LocalMed has already raised $1.56 million in capital, moved into an office on Sherwood Forest Boulevard and plans to hire 52 employees by 2016.
Yellow Jacket, which developed a stun gun iPhone case, has moved into an office downtown and is starting to sell its products online and at Academy Sports and Outdoors.
The company sold 1,000 stun gun cases online through the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.com, a move that brought in $100,000 for Yellow Jacket.