Innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity took center stage Feb. 18 as the St. Thomas Business Plan Competition returned to an in-person format this year on the Minneapolis campus. Both undergraduates and graduate students/recent alumni competed for a total of $38,000 in cash prizes by pitching their plans in front of experienced business leader judges. Students submitting to the competition represented 24 majors.
A plan for an educational resource group for Americans interested in the cryptocurrency market triumphed in the undergraduate track, while a plan for a company that leverages artificial intelligence to protect the mental health of student-athletes won the graduate student/recent alumni track.
“The entrepreneurial energy was back in full swing in Schulze Hall, and it was exciting to see firsthand the creativity that the students and alumni are applying to the challenges and opportunities of society today,” said Schulze School of Entrepreneurship Associate Dean Laura Dunham. “This is a tremendous opportunity to test their ideas in front of accomplished entrepreneurs while moving their business forward with seed capital.”
Undergraduate Student Track Finalists:
- First place ($10,000): FinCademy – Jalen Wight ’22 (business economics). A business-to-consumer educational resource group offering e-learning courses, a private community forum, wealth management guidance and a proprietary trading algorithm to help the millions of adults in the U.S. who are interested in the cryptocurrency market.
- Second place ($5,000): DryvnAI – Samuel Richter ’23 (computer science) and Biel Wiel ’22 (entrepreneurship). An app to forecast and map demand for rideshare and delivery app drivers so they can position themselves to get first pick of rides and optimize profitability.
- Third place ($2,500): Yo'Fro – Isabell Geiger ’25 (entrepreneurship and environmental science) and Nia Porter ’25 (entrepreneurship). An app to connect Black women to freelance stylists and salons who work with Black hair. Yo'Fro aims to impact the lives of Black foster children through charitable donations, helping Black women and children achieve the freedom and liberation they deserve.
- Fourth place ($1,000): Local4Local – Hao Taing ’22 (operations and supply chain management) and Jamie Tjornehoj ’22 (business administration and journalism). A youth-run food drive initiative that sustains jobs to cyclo drivers (three-wheeled bicycle unique to Cambodia) and provides key necessities to Cambodians in need.
- Fifth place ($500): OAT: Oats & Toast – Lindsey Schulz ’24 (marketing management and business analytics). A breakfast cafe located in West Fargo, North Dakota, with a mission to bring convenient, healthy and exciting breakfast options to the community.
Graduate Student/Recent Alumni Track Finalists:
- First place ($10,000): Axon Athletics – Jordan Johnson ’20 (psychology). An online mental performance company that leverages artificial intelligence to protect the mental health of student-athletes.
- Second place ($5,000): Cozy Siberica – Elena Mityushina ’24 MBA. A cozy cafe with a focus on Siberian food, dessert and an extensive tea menu that includes signature herbal and fruit teas. The cafe will also serve as a hub for the Russian community.
- Third place ($2,500): Tidy Pawz LLC – Noah Hansen ’25 J.D. A local, full-service dog grooming business located in Rogers, Minnesota, aiming to provide customers with a variety of professional, stress-free dog grooming services at competitive prices.
- Fourth place ($1,000): MiWay – Austin Murr ’21 (English) and Cameron Shuck ’20 (entrepreneurship). A web extension that blocks traditional advertisements and replaces them with ads curated based only on the data that users are willing to share. Users will be compensated when their data is used.
- Fifth place ($500): All WX LLC – Bob Buckley ’17 (accounting). A weather data company collecting, processing and publishing data in a simple online format.