Left: Libby Martin is the CEO and founder of Calving Technologies, a tracking device for cows that monitors vital signs in order to decrease cow mortality during calving season. Calving Technologies hopes to market their technology to farmers in the self-described “beef bread basket,” a group of Midwestern cattle farms that drive the beef industry in the U.S.
Center: Tonderai Kambarami, Cameron Knight and Merwan Abdelmajeed founded the company Air Traffic Awareness. Their custom mobile device and application will allow pilots to keep track of other airplanes in an effort to avoid aircraft collisions using the latest in aircraft communication technology.
Right: Teanna Bass is the CEO and founder of Sweet Tea Cosmetics. As a pioneering student-owned and operated salon, the brand focuses on being an affordable, organic and inclusive cosmetic line.
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Libby Martin’s shock was evident when it was announced she won the University of Missouri System’s Entrepreneur Quest Final Pitch Competition. Martin, a first-year veterinary medicine student at MU and CEO and founder of Calving Technologies, created a tracking device for cows that monitors vital signs in order to decrease cow mortality during calving season. Calving Technologies hopes to market their technology to farmers in the self-described “beef bread basket,” a group of Midwestern cattle farms that drive the beef industry in the U.S.
Students at each of the four University of Missouri System universities, including Martin, spent eight weeks researching and testing their business ideas as a part of the Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator, a new UM System program. One of the initiatives outlined by President Mun Choi to encourage small business growth in Missouri, the program taught students the process of creating and successfully launching their businesses. Choi was inspired to create the accelerator program after seeing similar programs at the University of Connecticut and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California.
“It’s a program that brings students from very diverse backgrounds together to achieve a common goal of innovation and entrepreneurship,” Choi said. “This innovative program supports student success and engagement all while enhancing the economy of our state by teaching students the necessary skills and resilience to launch their own businesses here in Missouri.”
At the end of those eight weeks of research and development, student teams at each university had 10 minutes to pitch their business ideas to business professionals, much like on the television series Shark Tank, for a chance to further the dream and win thousands of dollars. The top three teams from each university had a chance to win additional cash funding for their startup by representing their respective university at the Entrepreneur Quest Final Pitch Competition in Columbia. First place took home $15,000 in startup funding, second place took $10,000 and third place walked away with $5,000.
Martin encourages other young entrepreneurs to remain confident and take advantage of opportunities.
“A lot of people don’t take young entrepreneurs seriously, especially if they don’t have a lot of capital to back themselves up,” Martin said. “Seek out the opportunities and use your resources, and Mizzou is a great place to do that.”
Second place was awarded to Air Traffic Awareness, a company founded by three graduate students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Their solution, a custom built mobile device and application, uses the latest in aircraft communication technology to allow pilots to keep track of other airplanes in an effort to avoid aircraft collisions.
Teanna Bass, a senior at MU, took third place for her business Sweet Tea Cosmetics. As a pioneering student-owned and operated salon, the brand focuses on being an affordable, organic and inclusive cosmetic line.
This experience gave each of the teams the confidence needed to be a successful entrepreneur and business professional, said Bill Turpin, interim associate vice chancellor for economic development at MU.
“The Entrepreneur Quest program gives students a safe environment to try their hand at starting a real company, Turpin said. “This is the best way for them to learn by doing.”
Editor’s Note: For more on the story, please see: UMKC Student Entrepreneurs Place at UM System Pitch Competition