Louisiana Tech students shine at Louisiana Startup Prize competition

Jun 26, 2014 | Business, Research and Development

Student and faculty entrepreneurs from Louisiana Tech University were among the top performers during the first qualifying round of the Louisiana Startup Prize competition held this past weekend in Shreveport. Teams participating in the Louisiana Startup gave short investor pitches during three “Sit & Pitch” roundtable competitions. Louisiana Tech alumni and former TOP DAWG New Venture Championship winner Sean Griffin pitched “The Firebrand,” a hand held, texting style keyboard, and Todd Maggio, an associate professor in Louisiana Tech’s School of Art, pitched LMNO Beasts which are educational children’s products. Griffin and Maggio each won their respective roundtable pitches. In one of the weekend’s showcase events, teams took part in the “Big Competition” where they received envelopes with six “ingredients” to be used to create a product in three hours that would change the world. Louisiana Tech students Azriel Richards and Jacob Newton won the competition and a $1,000 prize with their GURU artificial intelligence software that creates personas of famous historical figures with which users can talk to and interact. Richards and Newton entered their new gaming app startup venture, “Mega Monkey Massacre,” into the Louisiana Startup Prize competition after building the app in their spring quarter ART 464 class offered by Louisiana Tech’s School of Design. Startup teams also participated in informative roundtable sessions led by business professionals and experts from the region. Kathy Wyatt, director of the Louisiana Tech Technology Business Development Center led the “Who is Your Customer?” session and Debbie Inman, coordinator of entrepreneurial studies for Louisiana Tech, led the “How to Validate Your Idea” session. Panel discussions featuring area investors and experienced entrepreneurs also took place, offering teams helpful startup tips and valuable advice and on how they connected with individuals who helped them advance their ideas. “Watching these entrepreneurs learn, compete and network in our inaugural Startup Prize Qualifying Event shows me the true power of what we’re doing here in northwest Louisiana,” said Gregory Kallenberg, executive director for the Louisiana Startup Prize. “I also have to say that I’m totally impressed with the groups that are coming in from Ruston and Louisiana Tech University. All of these teams seem like serious contenders for Startup Prize and, more importantly, for the potential of earning investor dollars.” Startup teams from or associated with Louisiana Tech include the following: • Alchemy Geopolymer Solutions: Carlos Montes and Neil Keen • IAP Network: Anthony Tchakounte • LMNO Beasts: Todd Maggio • Mega Monkey Massacre: Jacob Newton and Azriel Richards • OrganicNano: Patrick Mills • PathoRadar: Varun Kopparthy and Raj Vinnakota • PlayLAB: Jessica Wasserman • The Firebrand: Sean Griffin • Salute: Christian Dunn • What’s Up Shreveport?: Konstantin Dolgan The Louisiana Startup Prize was created by the Film Prize Foundation to help entrepreneurs improve their ventures, network with business experts and compete for cash prizes, services and the potential of gaining investment money. Qualifying events for round two of the competition will be held July 18 – 20. For more information on Louisiana Startup Prize, visit Written by Debbie Inman –