2018 Northwest Entrepreneur Competition Fosters Innovative Ideas

The 2018 Northwest Entrepreneur Competition featured 24 teams across three categories – Technology, Traditional Business, and Open. More than 60 teams from our region's colleges, universities, and even high schools entered the competition with their pitch video and executive summaries in February, with the field being narrowed to 8 finalists in each of the three categories for the final presentations that occurred on Tuesday, April 17th. A total of $42,000 in cash prizes, plus in-kind coworking space memberships were awarded to the top three teams in each category. I had the opportunity to participate in the Technology category and was very impressed with the quality of ideas and presentations. I'll provide a brief recap of the top three teams in this category: First Place Team – PickItUp The team from University of Idaho knocked it out of the park. PickItUp is an on demand service for hauling, transporting, or delivering your large and bulky items that won’t fit in your car, with a simple pricing model and one goal in mind – to streamline getting your items from point A to point B while saving you time and money. Whether you are moving apartments, needing to get a new couch home from the store, or you found that treadmill on craigslist you can’t live without, they are there to help you move it.    

2nd Place Team – WildRide

This team from Gonzaga University has created a web-based application that connects people to bars and restaurants in a creative and adventurous way. Users set parameters for what type of destination they are looking for and the app chooses a mystery bar or restaurant, and provides transportation. Here's the business model – the app is free to download and use. Restaurants and bars pay a fee for every person in the WildRide party that is dropped off at their establishment. The team has already invested $50K of their own money into the launch of WildRide, and are seeking an additional capital investment.

3rd Place Team – UpKeep

This team from Gonzaga University has created an app that bridges the gap between landlords and tenants in a new way that will be a stress relieving and money saving asset to any landlord. UpKeep will be a platform for direct deposit of rent payments to the landlord’s bank account. Landlords will be able to monitor which tenants have and have not paid, while relying on UpKeep to automatically notify tenants when rent is due or when late fees are owed. When tenants need to inform landlords of repairs/maintenance, they will utilize the repair request offered by UpKeep. This team has already invested $15K of their own money into the launch of UpKeep. All three teams are planning to commercialize their ideas, and have been invited to pitch at an upcoming Spokane Angel Alliance luncheon in hopes of securing additional investment from angel investors.


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