McGuire Program Student Startups Take Honors Locally and Nationwide

April 29, 2015

Three McGuire Entrepreneurship Program teams were honored time and again in several business plan competitions held locally and around the nation this academic year. Two of these repeat winners, CrateCrops and InHouse Real Estate Marketing, are undergraduate student teams and Infinurja is a team of graduate students. 

McGuire Program students receive a year of intense experiential education that engages them in the process of moving innovation from an early-stage idea to a sustainable venture. As part of the hands-on academic program, all McGuire Program students participate in two public events each spring, a trade show, McGuire on the Mall, and a combined trade show and rocket pitch competition, the McGuire New Venture Competition and Showcase, taking place Friday, May 1. However, McGuire Program Director Patty Sias encourages interested students to apply to additional business plan competitions nationwide in order to get as much real-world experience as possible. 

"The more people that students talk to from the investment side, the stronger their business will be," she said. "In order to prepare for business plan competitions, students have to learn to think on their feet, think critically, and tailor their pitches to their audiences. By creating their presentations and preparing for Q&A, they develop such depth in their knowledge of their venture and industry."  


CrateCrops is an aquaponic technology manufacturer that creates experiential STEM platforms for K-12 schools by incorporating aquaponics, vertical gardening, and automation inside repurposed containers. CrateCrops is being developed by Reilly Cleal, Marketing; Scott Downey, Management; Yale Jesser, Marketing; Shawn Ludgate, Economics; and Phillip von Bieberstein, Plant Science.  

Infinurja designs, produces, and sells products that use organic waste and natural biological processes to generate continuous power to homes. Infinurja is being developed by Nicholas Jennings, Public Health Policy and Management; Vinay Nenwani, MBA and MS in MIS; and Adam Ross, Applied Bioscience: Molecular and Cellular Biology.

InHouse Real Estate Marketing provides real estate professionals with an intuitive, unified web application for brand enhancement, lead management, and marketing of listings. InHouse is being developed by Brittany Auclair, Accounting; Onye Chi-ukpai, Accounting and MIS; Mat Friedman, Management; Cooper Kowalski, Marketing; and Luis Palomares, Management.  


Competition Wins

Retail & Health Innovation Challenge
November 15 | Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 

  • Infinurja: Fan Favorite Award Winner

InnovateUA Accelerator (read more)
March 4, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

  • Infinurja and CrateCrops were among 11 teams selected from more than two-dozen applicants to participate in the InnovateUA Accelerator, a six-week program that provided student startups mentors, resources and a workspace in preparation to compete in the 2015 Perkins Coie Innovative Minds Challenge.  

Lavin Entrepreneurship Center's LeanModel™ Start-up Competition
March 6-7 | San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 

  • InHouse Real Estate Marketing received $500 and the Showcase Pitch Winner award, and during the Aztec Tank (the competition's version of the ABC television show Shark Tank) the "sharks" chose to invest $1,000 in prize money in InHouse. 
  • Infinurja received $500 for winning Best First Impression at the trade show part of the competition. It was also a finalist for the Aztec Tank and was one of four finalists for the Lean Model Competition.

West Region ELEVATE business plan competition 
March 23 | Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA

  • Infinurja: West Region winner, $20,000 prize/investment and an invitation to compete among the four winners in the national finals in Silicon Valley for $50,000

Arizona Collegiate Venture Competition
March 27 | Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

  • Infinurja: Grand Prize and $10,000 in seed funding
  • InHouse Real Estate Marketing: First-Runner-Up and $7,000

Neeley Entrepreneurship Center's Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition
April 10-11 | Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

  • CrateCrops: Won Elevator Pitch 3rd Place and $250

Perkins Coie Innovative Minds Challenge (read more)
April 21 | University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

  • Infinurja: Top Winner - $5,000 cash prize sponsored by Perkins Coie and 6 months business development at AzCI​
  • CrateCrops: $1,000 cash stipend sponsored by Innovate UA and scholarship to the Thryve program

Giants Entrepreneurship Challenge
April 24-25 | University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND

  • Infinurja: Second Place and $2,000, and Best Elevator Pitch and $250