MU students win big at entrepreneurial contest

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COLUMBIA - Two companies founded by MU students won thousands of dollars at an entrepreneurial competition Friday.

Calving Technologies, created by graduate student Libby Martin, won the $15,000 grand prize. Sweet Tea Cosmetics, started by Teanna Bass, took third place and won $5,000.

Martin, a first-year graduate veterinary medicine student, said her prize-winning pitch (a device that tracks the location of cows and their vital signs).

"Just a couple years ago, I knew nothing about entrepreneurship. You can't give up," Martin said.

The process to determine the winners started in November, when the four UM System schools chose ten semifinalists each. The best three pitches from each school were invited to Columbia for the finals on Friday.

"Over the past couple months, it's been such a learning curve and a growth opportunity," Martin said.

Finalists had ten minutes to pitch their business to a panel of judges, who then cut the field of twelve down to three. 

UM System President Mun Choi presented the awards to the three winning groups and said every finalist should be proud of their achievements.

"This may sound cliche, but you're all winners today. When you look back  on this event one year, five years, ten years from now, you'll look back and say 'I learned something,'" Choi said.

Martin also won the grand prize at the Mizzou semifinal event in March, which netted Calving Technologies an additional $15,000. Bass's Sweet Tea Cosmetics took second at that event, for $10,000.

Martin said the prizes give her a mental boost, in addition to the financial one.

"A lot of times I think that entrepreneurs feel like it's all for nothing, but now we know what we can do going forward with the funds we've received," Martin said.