College entrepreneurs compete for money at UCCS

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Students at UCCS got the opportunity to pitch ideas to judges in a “Shark Tank”-style competition Thursday.

The winner got $2,000 to get their business idea up and running.

There were a total of six groups pitching ideas.

The judges are made up of local entrepreneurs who also gave their feedback to students on their business ideas.

One of the ideas is The Fizz Box. It’s a monthly subscription that allows you to make your own bath bombs at home.

“A bath bomb is a little effervescent fizzy ball.  They come in a number of different sizes. You drop them in the tub, they fizz, they foam, they give you that effervescence. These actually have bubbling in them as well,” said creator Lindsey Leblanc.

Another potentially groundbreaking idea is the SOCÜL Mug that keeps coffee and tea at an ideal temperature.

It’s an idea with a lot of science behind it.

“Bluetooth module, lithium batteries, some custom silicone, and then heating wire wrapped up on the inside. It’s a double-walled ceramic,” said creator Nate Thuli.

For a lot these pitches, this competition is huge.

“This is the debut where we’re showing it to people for the first time really, so it’s a great chance to get a lot of feedback,” said Thuli.

Judges look for specific things when picking the winner.

“We’re going to look at overall presentation. We’re going to look to see if they really have a business model. Are they in concept stage, or are they really in execution and looking for advice and or money to really launch?” judge Stephen Kaczmarek, Founder and CEO of Borealis Fat Bikes, said.

They don’t have to be nice when judging.

“I tend to be very realistic as if I were investing the money myself. I think we’re really told to say, ‘Hey look. This doesn’t work and here are the reasons why.’ We’re not here to give them a nice easy pat on the back and say, ‘Good luck. Keep trying,'” said Kaczmarek.

“Having this competition, having things like this shows the community that it’s not just something unattainable, that even college students can do it. You don’t have to have a lot of money. You can start from just an idea,” said Leblanc.

The winner of the competition Thursday was the SOCÜL Mug, which keeps coffee and tea at the correct temperature, so it never gets cold.

The inventor received $2,000 from the El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization.

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