MU students compete for $30,000 in "Shark Tank" style competition

3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 6:39:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
By: Alex Angle, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Fifteen University of Missouri students got the chance to pitch their business ideas Monday in hopes of receiving startup funding.

The competition is part of Entrepreneur Quest, which is a UM System program aimed at helping students jump-start their ventures.

MU Executive Director of Entrepreneurship Greg Bier said the program supports today's students who have a business idea they want to grow.

"Today's generation is a little different," Bier said. "They don't see themselves getting the golden watch after 30,40,50 years with one company. They want to be able to control their own destiny, and we're here to set them up for success."

One of the business ideas pitched was Printerior, which is custom-made furniture from 3D recycled plastics. MU students Trent Esser and Hayden Seidel started the company because of their love of designing.

"We both have a background in sculpture," Essser said. "We're both huge art nerds."

Seidel said their products will be made of 100 percent recycled plastic. Their ultimate goal is to expand their business to print many different items.

"Our ultimate goal is to have this be an everyday product and have an enormous database with hundreds of thousands of designs, anything from a small scale phone charger holder or a full-size coffee table or chair," Seidel said.

According to Entrepreneurship Quest, ten students from Monday's pitch competition will be chosen to move on to the next round of competition. The students will participate in an eight week-educational program before presenting their ideas again March 16, 2020. The three winners from this competition will share $30,000; 1st place will receive $15,000, 2nd place will receive $10,000 and third place will receive $5,000 to fund their idea.

The three MU finalists will then compete in a final pitch competition against the top three students at UMKC, UMSL and Missouri S&T April 8, 2020. The winners from this will share $30,000.

Bier said they are looking for students who are passionate about making a difference with their idea.

"It's gotta be the right student, with the right idea at the right time, so we're trying to get students to tell their story and why they're interested in that venture," Bier said.

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