Nine Teams to Participate in
Mizzou’s EQ Program
It takes 500 recycled plastic water bottles to create a chair using the University of Missouri College of Engineering’s 3D Printing Lab, according to Trent Esser, a senior majoring in business management, and Hayden Seidel, a senior in civil and environmental engineering.
Esser and Seidel shared this information while presenting their venture Printerior at the Nov. 18 Entrepreneur Quest (EQ) Student Accelerator program pitch competition against 14 other teams on MU’s campus. Their idea to use 3D printing to create custom-made furniture from recycled plastics won them $500 as the audience favorite.
The purpose of Monday’s competition was to choose the teams that will participate in MU’s EQ program, which gives students an opportunity to win funding and create ventures based on their innovative ideas. This year, more than 50 teams applied to be part of EQ. Eleven of the top 15 applicants who pitched their ideas won a spot in the program, but two teams dropped out due to time constraints, leaving nine semifinalists:
Zach Cook, MBA graduate student – Vesta: One-stop cold storage container for the e-food and beverage delivery industry
Trent Esser, business management – Printerior: Custom-made furniture from 3D recycled plastics
Maxwell Fazekas, electrical engineering graduate student – Max Fix: Economical cell phone repairs (has retail space in the MU Student Center)
David Goddard, finance graduate student – Kimberling City Bait and Tackle: Provides guide service, gears and lures.
Daniel Hoffman, executive MBA student – Norah Health: Health care platform for physicians to increase patient satisfaction and payment reimbursements.
Emily Housey, journalism strategic communication – Housey Designs LLC: Customizable products and art for Generation Z (has retail space in the MU Student Center)
Drew Patel, computer science – Pollinate: Blockchain login for package deliveries in developing countries
Madison Read, graphic design – Doodle Bed: Creates art on white sheets for hospital patients to color with markers; especially for sick children and elderly patients with dementia
Daniel Serres, political science and communications – Fresher Than U: Provides canvases on everyday items, such as car air fresheners, to showcase the work of digital graphic artists
Although team members came from diverse degree programs and pitched a wide range of business ideas, they shared an entrepreneurial mindset by thinking creatively, pushing boundaries and actively taking measures to launch their ventures.
“Trying to solve a problem is at the core of a land-grant university like MU,” said Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies, at the start of the competition. “That’s what we do. We make things better, we solve problems, we take risks.”
EQ is offered throughout the University of Missouri System. MU’s semifinalists will participate in workshops, receive coaching from local entrepreneurs, and take part in other activities to prepare themselves for success. On March 16, they will participate in another pitch competition. Three winners of that competition will share a $30,000 reward and advance to compete against finalists from University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri University of Science and Technology and University of Missouri-St. Louis on April 8. The winners of the finale will split another $30,000 ($15,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place and $5,000 for third place). Mizzou students won first and third place overall in the 2019 UM System EQ finale.
“Along with the money comes a lot of coaching, mentoring and networking, which is almost a prerequisite for success as an entrepreneur,” said Greg Bier, executive director of entrepreneurship programs at MU.
In fact, most of Monday’s alumni judging panel cut their entrepreneurial “teeth” by taking courses and participating in entrepreneurship programs as Mizzou students:
Zach Beattie, BS BA ’14, CEO and founder of Off The Grid; co-founder of SafeTreck
Nickie Davis, BGS ’09, executive director of The District Downtown Columbia; owner of Muse Clothing
Jeremyah Grigery, BS BA ’12, director of digital marketing, Veterans United Home Loans; owner of Nostalgiaville USA
Foster Honeck, BA ’15, chief of staff, Troutwine Ventures
Kelsey Raymond, BS BA, ’11, co-founder and CEO of Influence & Co.
“A program like EQ is an opportunity to learn by doing, get experience and acquire new skills,” said Bill Turpin, MU interim associate vice chancellor for economic development and president of the Missouri Innovation Center. “It’s learning how to think about the future, it’s creating a vision, and it’s hard work. All of those components come together in the EQ program, where students get to work on their own ideas in a safe, supportive environment.”