The journey that began in the Fall Semester with 150 entrants for the campus-wide Innovative Ideas Competition, culminated on Tuesday night with a first place win in SNC’s Jâlé and Warren Trepp Business Plan Competition for Solar Power Innovation. The Solar Power team seeks to apply environmentally sound solutions to everyday problems. It has set its first task as development of an “ice independent” portable solar refrigeration unit with applications for both recreational use and for international humanitarian efforts transporting perishable vaccines to remote areas around the globe.
Solar Power Innovation’s team members Jacob Bricklin, Alden Spence, Tyler Prange, and Mitch Wiseman presented to a panel of four outside judges; a fifth team member, Scott Kiernan is in the midst of an internship with the Save the Children Foundation in Washington, D.C. and unable to be present. The team gave an overview of their business plan and responded to the panel’s detailed questions. Based on the judges’ scoring of this oral presentation and the score on their previously evaluated written business plan, Solar Power Innovation claimed the $4,500 first prize. The judges were particularly taken with the role that their technology could play in solving the significant of vaccine transportation and encouraged the team to pursue this avenue of product development.
Brass Mountain Sports was the second place winner in the Trepp Competition, receiving a $1,500 cash award. Brass Mountain Sports team members, Lukas Brassie and Brendan Wheelwright have developed a three-part, all-season, “sleep solution” for diehard outdoor enthusiasts. The extremely lightweight, high-loft down sleeping bag apparatus, incorporates a unique removable liner that makes it suitable for temperatures of -25 degrees
Third place and a $750 cash prize went to Beth Portesi for her business plan for Vend, a grocery shopping solution was neatly niched for Millennial Moms with multiple responsibilities and no time or patience for waiting in a grocery store checkout line. Vend utilizes an app-based ordering system that links to a system incorporating warehouse inventory and streamlined curbside pick-up.
Sierra Nevada College President Lynn Gillette began the evening welcoming everyone to what he termed “SNC’s version of the Alabama-Auburn football game” and talking about SNC’s “culture of competition” that comes through numerous opportunities for student engagement and presentations. He asked the soon-to-be presenters to stand and applauded them for “having the guts to put it on the line.” Citing the extensive preparation that had brought them to the final stage of the business plan competition, he urged them to “relax and enjoy the moment.”
Present in the capacity audience of students, faculty, and community members, were Matea Ferk (’13) and Tea Palic (’14), members of the 2013 Trepp Competition’s first place team, Pure Ski Experience. During the 2013 season, Pure Ski Experience went on to win 2nd place in the statewide Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup and then 2nd place in the undergraduate division of the Reynolds Tri-State Competition, making them the only Nevada team to place in this best-of-the-best for Nevada, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Judges for the oral competition were area individuals with depth and breadth in business, entrepreneurship, and venture capital:
- Dr. Atam Lalchandani, member of the Sierra Angels, and former CFO at Oracle. His career has focused on the application of operations-research techniques to a variety of industrial and government problems, with operating roles in the high-tech industry. He currently serves as a part-time advisor, board member, and general business mentor to a number of early-stage information-technology companies.
- Bridge Stuart, former Director of Alternative Assets and Research and Principal at Coldstream Capital Management, Inc. In addition to his investment banking and equity research background, he spent 15 years in the computer industry in the areas of hardware, large system software design, and product management and marketing. Extremely active in nonprofit philanthropy, he is the founder of his own family foundation, and serves on numerous nonprofit boards.
- David Collins, former General Counsel and member of the Board of Directors of Johnson & Johnson, where he was part of the team that handled the 1982 and 1986 Tylenol poisoning episodes – widely studied as exemplary crisis management. He is also the former President of McNeil Pharmaceuticals, former Chairman of its worldwide Consumer Sector, and former President of the Health Care Products division of Schering Plough Corporation, as well as a venture capitalist.
- Roland Schumann, Sierra Angels member, and co-founder of SwapDrive, Inc., a pioneer in the “cloud storage” industry that was later sold to Symantec Corporation. Prior to SwapDrive, he was a senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton where he provided technical risk management services. A frequent guest lecturer at leading business schools, he is the recipient of George Washington University’s 2014 Entrepreneurial Achievement Award.
SNC’s winning teams will now have the opportunity to enter the statewide Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Business Plan Competition. They will spend the several weeks further refining their plans