Big ideas

Business innovators pitch product business plans at LaunchU event

Five teams of Walla Walla University students competed on April 5 in the final LaunchU event of the year for the chance to win business startup funds and mentorship and the opportunity to pitch their product business plan to a national audience.

During the yearlong LaunchU process, students from a variety of disciplines work in teams with their professors to develop product ideas and business models. Throughout the year, the teams present their ideas at a series of competitions, working to make it through to the national Moxie Business Summit and Pitch Event held each year.

The winning project at the final WWU competition was an idea for a product called StudPro, which is a device to accurately locate studs behind drywall by means of a magnetic array. The team was comprised of Vincent Weibel, senior product design major; Montarno Mandrie, senior product design major; Paul Tucker, sophomore business major; and Aurora Gault, senior business major.

Second place went to Eric Nazario, junior product design major, and Destinie Stopsen, senior business major for Creative Alcove, a desk design that enhances efficient use of space while reducing clutter.

The third-place project, Love Arrow Wedding Photography, is an idea to photograph and work with brides around the world to streamline and improve the wedding planning process. Project developers were Cedric Merrills, senior business major; John Stewart-Tapasco, senior business major; and Emmett Semple, senior business major.

Winning teams at the final WWU competition received $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place, and $2,000 for second place. The first- and second-place winners are encouraged to present their projects at the Moxie event on May 4, which will be held virtually this year due to the pandemic. At the Moxie event, teams from colleges and universities across the nation will present their projects and compete for additional funding and business mentorship. The winners at the national competition will receive $10,000 for first place, $7,000 for second place, and $3,000 for third place.

Posted April 27, 2021

CoLab Inc. orange and yellow logo.
CoLab Inc., the organization that runs LaunchU competitions, facilitates regular workshops, pitch events, and one-on-one coaching sessions to help entrepreneurs chart a course for success.
A team of four students wearing masks gather to evaluate their project.
The winning LaunchU team team is developing a new product for locating studs behind drywall.