Winning the $40,000 dollars was a shock.

When I was a college student, I was a worthless human being. My days consisted of avoiding homework and class attendance, eating Taco Bell, and watching ungodly amounts of sports. I also had a biology class that started at 8:30 AM and dragging myself out of bed every morning was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, so you can imagine how much I was contributing to society.

I tell these personal tidbits not to grovel for pity — after all, I’ve since blossomed into a professional blogger which is rated as the most prestigious/respected position by Forbes — but to stress how impressive it is that the 2016 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge featured over 200 student-run companies that competed for over $100,000 in cash and prizes. Last Saturday, the talent pool was narrowed to 20 startups who pitched before a judging panel — including another professional blogger, Beehive’s own Clint Betts — at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah, where Through the Cords was chosen as the $40,000 grand prize winner.

“Winning the $40,000 dollars was a shock,” said Mackenzie Hales, team member at Through the Cords. “The money will help us refine our product and get through FDA approval. However, more than winning the money, the best part of the competition was the positive feedback we received from judges and other participants. It was an emotional boost because it validated our efforts.”

Through the Cords is a U-of-U startup — represented by Hales, Benjamin Fogg, and Samer Merchant — that has designed a new endotracheal tube that simplifies the process of performing an endotracheal intubation. I have no idea what this means, but people who are much smarter than I have agreed it’s a good idea and that means much more than any validation or understanding I could offer.

In addition to the grand prize, many other companies were recognized for their efforts. Here is the complete list of award winners, courtesy of the Lassonde Institute:

  • Grand Prize Winner, $40,000 (Zions Bank) — Through the Cords, LLC
  • Best Presentation, $5,000 (Jones Waldo) — Latitude
  • People’s Choice Award, $2,500 (Zions) — passportXpress
  • Emerging Entrepreneur Award, $1,000 (Zions Bank) — Aura Optics
  • Emerging Entrepreneur Award, $1,000 (Zions Bank) — RetiOS
  • Best Tabling Award, $1,000 (Zions Bank) — passportXpress
  • Best Speed Pitch Award, $1,000 (Zions Bank) — SenseTech
  • Best Video Award, $1,000 (Jones Waldo) — passportXpress
  • Bootstrap Award, $1,500 (Actium Partners) — SenseTech
  • Best Technology Award, $2,500 (Stoel Rives) — SenseTech
  • Deloitte in-kind Grand Prize Award, $3,000 (Deloitte) — Through the Cords, LLC
  • In-kind financial services to top-8 teams, $1,000 (Deloitte) — Through the Cords, LLC, Milk Hollow Farms, Latitude, Whistic, Conversature, Red Barn Collections, HOA Cloud, SenseTech
  • Business Incubator in-kind award, $1,000 (Impact Hub) — SenseTech, Red Barn Collections
  • Full branding package, $11,000 (Mint Think, Inc.) — RetiOS (UofU)
  • Legal Services to top-8 teams, $1,000 (Jones Waldo) — Through the Cords, LLC, Milk Hollow Farms, Lattitude, Whistic, Conversature, Red Barn Collections, HOA Cloud, SenseTech
  • Best Product Design Award, $2,000 (Espiritu Design) — Sybo Technology
  • Startup Publicity Award, $2,000 (Beehive Startup) — Red Barn Collections

Here are the top 20 team descriptions, also provided via the Lassonde Institute:

  • Aura Optics (Utah State University) — a startup providing customizable snow goggles for skiing and snowboarding athletes.
  • Conversature (University of Utah) — provides conversation analytics software aiming to improve sales.
  • Dollow (Brigham Young University) — a social-media analytics platform.
  • Fake A Shade (Southern Utah University) — manufactures innovative window coverings that imitate plantation shutters.
  • HOA Cloud (Brigham Young University) — provides a software platform that helps homeowner associations communicate.
  • Hype (Snow College) — a universal app where people can create, discover and manage their events.
  • Latitude (Brigham Young University) — software that provides a simple method to create mobile tours.
  • Maskot Promotional Apparel (Dixie State University) — produces full face, see-through masks that allow sports fans to become their favorite mascot.
  • Milky Hollow Farms (Westminster College) — using Green methods, Milky Hollow Farms produces high-quality dairy products using goat and sheep milk.
  • passportXpress (Utah Valley University) — a mobile app replacing plastic ID cards.
  • Poulet Bleu (Utah Valley University) — a fully functioning premium chicken poultry operation.
  • Quilture (Utah State University) — manufactures custom quilt patterns.
  • Red Barn Collections (Westminster College) — recycles used books to make journals.
  • RetiOS LLC (University of Utah) — startup that uses light bulbs to boost wifi signal.
  • SenseTech (University of Utah) — provides solar-powered modules that collect data for agricultural needs.
  • Sybo Technology (University of Utah) — an automated robotic lighting system for surgeons.
  • Through the Cords, LLC (University of Utah, team previously identified as Runnels Endotracheal) — a startup providing a new endotracheal tube that enhances utility in the OR, ICU and emergency settings.
  • Tive (Westminster College) — a platform that allows businesses to make money while providing free wifi.
  • Waverly Design Co. (Weber State) — a branding and website design company aimed specifically towards helping photographers.
  • Whistic (Brigham Young University) — is a cloud-based platform that enables organizations to quickly evaluate and manage security risks.

Published 4/11/2016