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Student startups awarded $75,000 at WSU business plan competition

UPDATED: Tue., May 4, 2021

This photo from 2011 shows the campus of Washington State University in Pullman. Student venture teams presented their business ideas last week and competed for $75,000 in prize money.  (Associated Press)
This photo from 2011 shows the campus of Washington State University in Pullman. Student venture teams presented their business ideas last week and competed for $75,000 in prize money. (Associated Press)

Student venture teams presented their business ideas last week and competed for $75,000 in prize money at an annual business plan competition hosted by WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

More than 28 student venture teams, representing nearly 150 students across three leagues, participated in the virtual event Thursday.

The top five teams of the competition’s college league, which consisted of 19 WSU teams, were awarded prize money with Unkle Drew’z Ginger Sauce winning the Herbert B. Jones $15,000 grand prize.

Unkle Drew’z Ginger Sauce was created by father-and-son team Drew and Brighton Maughan of Kirkland, and WSU student Cole Hensley. The sauce is a dressing, dip and marinade that can be used on a variety of foods.

The ginger sauce drew upon a longtime family recipe Drew Maughan would make for Sunday dinners and barbecues, said Brighton Maughan, a business and entrepreneurship major at WSU.

The prize money will be used produce batches of the sauce, which the team could possibly exhibit at trade shows, Maughan said.

“We are waiting for approval from WSU’s research facility,” Maughan said. “They are checking the pH levels and we have to get FDA approval. Then we can begin selling the sauce.”

Maughan said the team will also be establishing a Facebook page for the product in the near future.

Other college league award winners included the following: AnyLease, a platform that helps people navigate leases digitally; 3D Innovations and Academics, a service-based business providing an educational platform and community for groups exploring 3D printing; Accustomed Accommodations, a service-based business offering affordable housing by using upcycled materials; and Cleantech Kiosk, an autonomous kiosk to clean personal electronics.

More than 100 entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders served as judges for the event, according to a WSU news release.

Teams were judged based on presentation, development of a solution to a customer problem and business plans, among other things.

“Our judges and staff were inspired by the hard work of these young entrepreneurs and the creativity of the ideas presented at the virtual business plan competition this year,” Marie Mayes, CES director, said in a statement.

Red Thread Unraveled won $5,000 for first place in the competition’s high school league. Red Thread Unraveled, founded by Mead High School student Zoe Sponseller, sells subscription and gift boxes to Chinese adoptees with the goal of maintaining their cultural connection to China.

Some 32 teams from outside WSU applied to compete in the open league.

Groove from Gonzaga University won the top prize of $5,000.

Led by Abby Dodd, Emmy Wagner and Stella Beemer, Groove proposed a free Google Chrome extension that uses a database of companies’ information related to sustainability to rate products in three categories: carbon emissions, fair trade and waste impact.

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