As start-ups surge across the country, a group of the nation’s top college entrepreneurs will arrive in Minneapolis this week to pitch their ventures to local business executives and compete for a chance to bring their ideas to life.
And two teams from St. Thomas will be among them.
In all, 25 teams from colleges around the country will participate in the annual e-Fest competition for $215,000 in cash prizes and an opportunity to advance their business ideas. The event is back in person at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship for the first time since 2019 (the finals were canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 and held virtually in 2021).
The two St. Thomas teams include:
DryvnAI helps drivers who work for ride-share and delivery services increase their earnings through demand forecasts. The team includes computer science major Sam Richter ’23 and entrepreneurship major Biel Wiel ’22.
“E-Fest can be a way for us get the resources and connections we need to turn our vision into a reality,” Wiel said. “I’m super excited for the competition because I love to compete … and I’ll get to meet student entrepreneurs who are going through the same journey as I am.”
Local4Local is a youth-run food drive initiative that sustains jobs to cyclo drivers and provides key necessities to Cambodians in need. This team includes business management major Hao Taing ’22 and Jamie Tjornehoj ’22 (a double major in journalism and business administration).
“I initially joined Local4Local because I believed in its mission of helping those who needed an extra hand,” Tjornehoj said. “After joining the team, I have seen the monumental impact the organization has had on the Cambodian population and seen firsthand how the power of social innovation can be a force for good.”
Judges include local entrepreneurs and business executives from around the Twin Cities. Top teams will pitch in the championship round to Best Buy founder and chairman emeritus Dick Schulze, serial entrepreneur Damian Novak, SportsEngine founder and Rally Ventures general partner Justin Kaufenberg, FACE FOUNDRIÉ founder Michele Henry and Allina Health CEO and President Lisa Shannon.
“The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well on our college campuses, and these talented students are creating fresh new ideas for solving problems that matter,” said Laura Dunham, associate dean of the Schulze School. “Competitions like e-Fest help these budding entrepreneurs hone the skills they learn in their courses and give them experiences they need to bring their ideas to fruition and be successful in the long run.”
Here is the full list of the 25 finalist teams:
- AI-Learners, Cornell University
- Buzly, California State University of Sacramento
- Casgains Terminal, University of Chicago
- Chippit, Texas A&M University
- Conserve, Georgia State University
- DryvnAI, University of St. Thomas-Minnesota
- Fib, Portland State University
- Fit Oven, Florida Atlantic University
- Free. Project, Walsh University
- HydroPhos Solutions, University of New Hampshire
- Let’s Tap In LLC, Towson University
- Local4Local, University of St. Thomas-Minnesota
- Manser Edbrooke Technology, FAMU – FSU College of Engineering
- Nutroo.AI, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Pallyt, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Pet HealthCare Innovations, Florida Atlantic University
- Reboot Reforestation, University of Alabama
- RedBrick Entertainment, Wake Forest University
- RENNDVOUS, Towson University
- Resense, Grove City College
- Safe Sips, State University of New York at New Paltz
- Sav’s Syrups LLC, University of Northern Iowa
- SmartSeat, Grand Valley State University
- Sportwatch LLC, Western Michigan University
- Tandemly, Virgina Tech