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UM Students attend Venture Creation Challenge

Kovacs and Wolk

Missouri S&T students John Kovacs, electrical and computer engineering, (left) and Connor Wolk, engineering management, took home a $1,000 prize for their startup business, HammerSpace, at the 2016 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge.

Members from the 2016 cohort of the UM System Entrepreneurial Scholars and Interns Program (ESIP) attended the first day of competition at the 2016 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge, hosted by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on April 29 and May 6. The competition gave students a chance to pitch business ideas to local investors providing $40,000 in seed funding, up to $10,000 per team.

Missouri S&T ESIP students John Kovacs and Connor Wolk won $1,000 by making the semifinals with their company, HammerSpace. HammerSpace makes events smarter by exchanging information digitally.

Other ESIP students who participated in the competition included MU students Bobby Caffrey and Creighton DeYoung, and UMKC students Tin Ho, Vivion Nguyen, and Laura Wymer.

The two-day event is a business plan competition where students have the chance to present new concepts to local investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“The ventures presenting at this event are always immensely impressive, and this year was no exception,” said Dr. Jeff Hornsby, director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UMKC. “Our students put so much hard work and preparation into the Venture Creation Challenge, and we couldn’t be prouder of each and every team. We were also pleased to have teams from Mizzou, Missouri S&T, Emporia State and William Jewell in our competition this year”

The ESIP students who did not enter the competition had the opportunity to enhance their judging skills by selecting a winner for the $500 ESIP venture award. They met and listened to Alex Altomare of The Collective, a venture capital fund in Kansas City, on the importance of investing in startups. The students used his advice to determine criteria to judge the entries for the ESIP award. The students selected the company Pennez as the recipient of the first annual ESIP venture award.  

The UM System Office of Academic Affairs, Research and Economic Development established the ESIP to create a steady stream of entrepreneurs around the state capable of taking their cutting-edge ideas to the market as new business ventures. Creating this new wave of well-educated entrepreneurs in Missouri will benefit the local, regional, and national economies.  For more information, visit https://www.umsystem.edu/esip/.

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About this Story

Campus: Missouri S&T
Key words: Competitiveness, Innovation, Rolla Campus, UM System,
County: Phelps