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UArizona students compete for business boost

Entrepreneur competition
Posted at 7:24 PM, Apr 08, 2022

TUCSON, Ariz (KGUN) — Some University of Arizona students have been feeling the pressures of the modern business world. They were in a high stakes competition where winning can boost businesses they create.

You want to know where a lot of products come from? They come from young minds with young ideas and at the UA Eller College of Management there’s a competition where people work to win the seed money to get those things started.

The 17 teams of the University of Arizona students are competing to create products and effective companies to market them.

Evan Zavitz of Grav Mouse says: “We're building an innovative mouse concept targeted to PC gamers, it basically allows them to move less and control more.”

Lydia Mitchell with Local Tastes: “So we are local tastes for craft beer and wine subscription service focusing on local producers.”

The teams create a pitch powerful enough to convince backers to put up the money to launch their company.

Evan Zavitz says, “So this competition is going to be huge for us just because of the networking opportunity as well as the access to capital that we might receive.”

Lydia Mitchell says, “So we're hoping that we can go on and use some of the money from this to really work on getting our next box (of beer and wine samples) out there.”

In this case judges play the role of investors students need to sell on their concepts. Teams with the top scores get a share of $37,000 in launch money.

John Jackson is one of the judges now. Not long ago he was one of the student winners, able to turn his idea of creating better plants for grafting into a successful company called Grafted Growers. He says the competition helped with more than start up money, it helped make connections that helped his business grow.

“We placed second place and back in 2013," Jackson said. "It also gave us an opportunity to pitch an idea of funding that was brought here by Startup Tucson and the Desert Angels. They gave us an opportunity to really perfect our pitch and perfect our business model. From that point, we were able to get funding from the United States Department of Agriculture for Small Business Innovation Research Grant, and it really funded our business and allowed us to scale.”

And these students hope with the right combination of product and persuasion they can win that sort of success too.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.