A food-ordering mobile app for local restaurants and virtual-reality software for people with disabilities were the two business ideas that won the 5th annual UMaine Business Challenge held last weekend.
Two Colby College students, Dan Vogel and Scott Lehman (pictured above pitching to the judges), won the 1st place prize of $5,000 for NorthEats LLC, the food-ordering mobile app.
Zac Palmeter, a student at UMaine, won the technology prize, which also comes with $5,000, for his plan to develop virtual reality exposure therapy (it’s a thing) software. He calls his company Laeta.
Despite its name, the UMaine Business Challenge is open to student entrepreneurs from any Maine college or university. Three teams were from UMaine, one was from Colby and another was from Eastern Maine Community College.
The other competitors included UniHub, a mobile app to organize on-campus events; Adjustable Speedometer, a wireless adjustable speedometer; The Maine Film Guys, a video production and social media content marketing company; and AquaBuddies, a company that won UMaine’s Black Bear Hackathon for its aquaponics system.
No one went home empty handed. Christine Le and Andrea Cunney, the student entrepreneurs behind UniHub, and Colby Kohn of Maine Film Guys, won free entry into Launch Your Brilliant Idea, an online course offered by the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development. Kevin Conroy of Adjustable Speedometer won a spot in next year’s TopGun program, another MCED program, and five hours of legal work. And Nick Aiken of AquaBuddies won a 2nd place prize of $1,000 and five hours of legal work.
Judges at this year’s UMaine Business Challenge were Betsy Peters, a former “entrepreneur in residence” at the Maine Technology Institute and currently chief marketing officer at LightSail, a digital literacy platform for K-12 graders; Jess Knox, head of Maine Accelerates Growth and a founder of Maine Startup & Create Week; Jim Page, chancellor of the UMaine System; and Shawn McKenna, an “executive in residence” at the Maine Business School.