In front of a crowd of students, faculty, staff and local entrepreneurs on March 29, five University of Virginia’s College at Wise students pitched their startup ideas in the third annual G2K Game Innovation Competition.
Students showcased their original technology-based startup ventures to a panel of local judges and competed for up to $10,000 in awards and mentorship opportunities to bring their ideas to reality.
This competition is sponsored by G2K Games and the Norton Industrial Development Authority.
Students worked closely with UVa-Wise staff and faculty over two months to refine their business concepts and pitches.
• Hunter Hess of CROWDIQ was awarded $5,000 for his software application designed for marketing firms to gather crowd engagement metrics in both traditional and drone advertising applications.
• $2,000 went to Talesia Yancey-Scarbor to help with engineering and prototyping of her automated disinfecting toilet seat.
• Sani-Clean, founded by Josh Bouton, was awarded $2,000 to help with startup costs for his commercial cleaning business.
• Casey Taylor received $1,000 for 3D Buddy Caps, which will offer customized 3D water bottle caps that help kids with detachment anxiety from their favorite toy, and to stay hydrated at the same time.
A panel of industry expert judges selected this year’s awardees of cash prizes and access to mentorship opportunities. Judges included Bryan Lewis of G2K Games; Melissa Coffey of First Bank & Trust Co.; Julia McAfee of McAfee Law; James Lawson of Edward Jones in Wise; Charles Lawson of Thrower, Blanton & Associates P.C.
“What we are doing is very important to the future of our community and to Southwest Virginia as a whole,” stated G2K Games founder Bryan Lewis. “These students will lay the foundation for what’s to come over the next 25 to 30 years, and even if these individual projects don’t come to fruition this experience will allow these students to do great things in the future.”
Earlier in the week, Hunter Hess was selected as a semifinalist to the American Evolution Innovators Cup, to be held April 12 at the Tom Tom Summit & Festival. That competition includes a challenge to reimagine the high school of the future, along with a challenge in which student teams submit entries based on their existing startup, or identify and commercialize intellectual property where a Virginia higher education researcher is a “principal investigator.”
All of these events are supported by the University of Virginia Strategic Investment Fund. The focus of the SIF grant is to increase enrollment in targeted programs at UVa-Wise and to create a robust culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.