Boyd Venture Challenge Awards $30,000 to Student Startups

Three UT student startup companies have been awarded a total of $30,000 to advance their businesses through the spring 2015 Boyd Venture Challenge.

Each business pitched an idea to a panel of entrepreneurs who determined which companies should receive awards and the amount of funding for each.

“We had an excellent group of companies participate this semester,” said Tom Graves, operations director of the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “We saw a myriad of companies from a variety of industries, including a mobile fashion truck, an automated rainwater distribution system, and a patented built-in funnel solution. The judges were very impressed with the quality of ideas University of Tennessee students are developing.”

The spring 2015 winners are:

  • FunLPro Technology, $15,000
  • Rentique, $10,000
  • GuruSkins, $5,000

FunLPro Technology is a repeat Boyd Venture Challenge winner, having been awarded $7,500 in the fall. FunLPro Technology is owned by Bryan Crosby, of Maryville, Tennessee, a Master of Business Administration candidate and Entrepreneur Fellow. He has developed a disposable funnel that integrates into product packaging and eliminates the need to use a separate funnel when pouring liquids like motor oil, antifreeze, or bleach. He plans to use the $15,000 to finance a partnership with KenJo Oil and KenJo markets, making FunLPro available in all East Tennessee area KenJo Markets beginning in May.

Rentique is owned by Brandi King, of Kingston, Tennessee, a senior human resource management student. Rentique is a company that rents out high-end dresses from a mobile fashion truck. Having already purchased her initial inventory of 200 dresses, King will use the $10,000 to convert the company truck—a retired Wonder Bread truck—into a mobile boutique, complete with a fitting room. Rentique is scheduled to officially launch on August 12 in the Knoxville area.

GuruSkins is micro-crowdfunding site that sells custom ski and snowboard covers made out of high-quality vinyl, which enable customers to protect their board while conveying their individual style on the slopes. GuruSkins aims to foster an online community of board-sport participants and design enthusiasts by creating an interactive online website that provides a platform for artists to share their work and financially benefit from the sale of their designs as “skins.”

GuruSkins is owned by Jake Rheude, of Cincinnati, Ohio, an MBA candidate and Entrepreneur Fellow. He will use the funds from the Boyd Venture Challenge to develop web application tools over the summer so the site can be launched ahead of ski and snowboard season this fall.

The Boyd Venture Challenge is administered through the Anderson Center in the Haslam College of Business. Since the fund’s inception in 2011, twenty-three student-owned companies have been awarded a total of $172,000 in seed capital to advance their businesses.

The Boyd Venture Challenge is made possible by the generosity of Randy Boyd, president and CEO of Radio Systems Corporation, makers of PetSafe, Invisible Fence, and SportDog brands.

CONTACT:

Kimberly Hood (865-974-5126, kimberlyhood@utk.edu)