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U of I Students Win Startup Money at Spring Business Competitions

May 28, 2019

MOSCOW, Idaho — May 28, 2019 — University of Idaho Students won their share of $25,000 toward developing business ideas this spring during the annual Idaho Pitch and Startup Vandal competitions.

More than three dozen teams pitched their startup proposals to 50 investors at the Idaho Commons in Moscow during a tournament hosted by U of I’s College of Business and Economics (CBE). Students from Rathdrum to Gooding, throughout the Northwest, and as far north as Alaska presented original ideas including an on-site canola seed oil extractor, a virtual reality mindfulness app and a catheter that reduces the likelihood of associated urinary tract infections.

George Tanner, director of the Idaho Entrepreneurs program, mentored the startup teams that include students from majors across campus raising seed money to take their projects from the idea and investor pitch stages into the prototype and manufacturing phases. This spring, U of I startup teams earned more than $100,000 during additional competitions across the country.

“ In the entrepreneurial circuit our teams are highly competitive, well-respected, and even a little feared,” Tanner said. “I love baseball, so at Idaho Entrepreneurs we say ‘Life’s a Pitch,’ and this group of Vandals throws a wicked fastball.”

Winners during this year’s Idaho Pitch and Vandal Startup competitions April 26 included:

Startup Vandal — New Products Track

  • First Place, $5,000 — The NateGate , a pickup tailgate extender for outdoor enthusiasts, farmers and construction workers that lengthens the bed of a truck: Heather and Nate Fisher, CBE, Deary.
  • Second Place, $3,500 — HayTech , offering the Bale Performance Monitor, an easy-to-install, compact stroke counter and hay moisture sensor that saves hay bale producers time and money: Deborah Hutchinson, Thorp, Washington, CBE and College of Graduate Studies (COGS); Greg Hutchison, brother to Deborah Hutchison, Ellensburg, Washington; Brady Wonenberg, Moscow, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).
  • Third Place (tie), $1,500 each — Idaho Recamper , a camper refurbishing company for pickup trucks focused on bringing affordable and durable campers to hunters and outdoor enthusiasts: Ryan Zimmerman, Olympia, Washington, CBE; Brent Reed, Lewiston, CBE; Saleh Alkhathami, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, College of Engineering; and Vandal Mobile Press , a mobile crusher that allows farmers to extract oil from canola on-site. The device saves farmers shipping costs and gives them access to the canola meal for livestock feed: Emelia Millican, Gooding, CALS; Carli Erstrom, Vale, Oregon, CALS.

Startup Vandal — Technology Track

  • First Place (tie), $4,250 each — GCSP Trash2Gas, a curriculum for teaching middle and high school students about sustainable practices and waste management: Holly Terrill, Ronald, Washington, Engineering; Bishal Thapa, Jharuwarasi, Nepal, CALS; Kenny Sheffler, De Smet, Engineering; Devin Richards, Princeton, Engineering; Kaitlyn Lindholm, Boise, Engineering; Anson Lunstrum, Nampa, Engineering; and Infection Protection , a urinary catheter that reduces the likelihood of catheter-associated urinary tract infections: Ed Hall, Chugiak, Alaska, Engineering; Alex Boatman, Lewiston, CBE and College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.
  • Second Place, $2,000 — Neurochi Meditation, a virtual reality application that guides users, via meditation, into a replica of the human body where they can visualize and manage points of pain through mindfulness: Anne Onstott, Rathdrum, CBE; Peter Schmidt, Moscow, CBE; Julio Gonzales, Moses Lake, Washington, College of Art and Architecture (CAA); Jake Salus, Kodiak, Alaska, CAA; Joe Oles, Seattle, Washington, CAA.
  • Third Place, $1,000 — You Sew Studio , a design and visualization tool for sewers of all skill levels looking to create their own customized clothing in an efficient and environmentally conscious way : Amberly Marino, Sandpoint, CBE; Erin Killilea, Boise, CAA; Jessica Freitas, Rathdrum, CBE; Kelsey Hoff, Freeland, Washington, CAA; Trevor Maine, Hansville, Washington, CAA.

Idaho Pitch

  • First Place, $1,000 — Neurochi Meditation
  • Second Place, $800 — Infection Protection
  • Third Place, $600 — GCSP Trash2Gas

More information about these competitions is available on theIdaho Pitchand Vandal Startup webpages.

Media Contact

Ross Wulf
Marketing and Communications Manager
College of Business and Economics

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at