Mizzou Wins Entrepreneur Quest
Drew Patel, a sophomore computer science major from Springfield, Missouri, won first place for his startup business, Pollinate, in the UM System’s Entrepreneur Quest (EQ) finale April 16, 2020. See news release and feature story. Mizzou also won the 2019 competition.
“We are wrapping up our second year of EQ with an expanding pipeline of scalable student businesses,” said Bill Turpin, MU interim associate vice chancellor for economic development. “This program gives students a safe environment to try their hand at starting a real company.”
Patel was inspired to create a better package delivery service for emerging economies after experiencing delays and other issues in India. Further research led him to focus his efforts on improving e-commerce delivery systems in East Africa.
“Shipping in East Africa is very difficult and expensive,” Patel said. “Packages are often late, lost or stolen. Customers won’t order online because last-mile delivery costs are three times more expensive in emerging economies than in U.S. markets.”
E-commerce companies like Amazon are forced to use many different subcontractors in East Africa, making it virtually impossible for customers to track their packages, Patel said. The last mile of the delivery is the most expensive part because landmarks are often used instead of addresses. Pollinate’s solution is an on-demand delivery platform that would allow customers to pick up their packages at their neighborhood market stall instead of paying exorbitant fees for door-to-door delivery.
Currently, Pollinate is partnering with Jumia, the biggest e-commerce company in Africa, and is recruiting drivers for a pilot program in Nairobi, Kenya.
The UM System’s EQ program helps students translate their ideas into viable companies by immersing them in the business world through networking opportunities, mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and real-world experiences with the commercialization process. The four UM System universities organize these campus-level EQ activities, which culminate in the spring with the selection of each school’s three most promising ventures: Mizzou, UMKC, Missouri S&T and UMSL.
See highlights from Mizzou’s 2019-20 EQ Program.
Learn how the 2019-20 EQ program helped accelerate MU student businesses.
Click images to view EQ posters created for each Mizzou venture.
A Message from 2019 EQ Winner Libby Martin
Veterinary medicine student Libby Martin’s company Calving Technologies won the UM system EQ competition last year. Her invention is a collar for cows that tracks their vital signs and location to help decrease mortality rates during calving season. Martin has gone on to raise additional investment capital, including awards from other pitch competitions, and is now working on the beta prototype of her collar.
Watch a short video about her experience winning the Mizzou and UM System EQ competitions. Learn more about the 2019 EQ finale.
EQ provides workshops, tools and mentoring to help students from any degree program make their business ideas a reality. Participants have the opportunity to win seed funding to jump-start their venture. Watch our two-minute video for more details.
Dr. Greg Bier, EQ Director
1210c MU Student Center, Columbia, Missouri 65211
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