A women’s work wear company helmed by a Lundquist College Oregon MBA candidate won the regional Small Business Administration InnovateHer Business Competition on November 19 and will advance to the next round for the possibility to compete for up to $70,000 and a trip to Washington, DC in March 2016. The competition was one of many local events taking place as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week from November 15-19.
Stacey Edwards founded the clothing line TOUGHER to provide women who work in laboring jobs a more comfortable experience.
"It was encouraging that the judges recognized the great need for women to have better work wear for the field, backyard, and shop," Edwards said. "I share this win with the hundreds of women who have shared their stories with me since starting TOUGHER."
TOUGHER was one of six finalists in the annual SBA InnovateHER regional business competition cohosted by the UO Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, Eugene RAIN, and Fertilab Thinkubator. The Eugene/Springfield competition was one of only three competitions held in Oregon. The SBA InnovateHER competition is open to entrepreneurs who are creating products or services that have a measurable impact on women and their families, fill a need in the marketplace, and have the potential for commercialization.
Judges for the competition included Shannon Oliver, MBA '13, and cofounder and operations director at Red Duck Foods; Kimmy Gustafson '05 (School of Journalism and Communication) and cofounder of Manage My Co-Op; Julie Anderson, solutions engineer at Hewlett-Packard; and Lauren Lanahan, assistant professor of management at the Lundquist College of Business.
In a separate competition, crossdisciplinary teams of University of Oregon students won first place in this year’s Startup Weekend Eugene/Springfield for The Right Plate, an app platform that identifies potential ingredients in food to help minimize potential allergy and/or dietary risks.
The UO and surrounding community joined 23,000 teams in 150 countries for Startup Weekend, a Techstars Community Program supported by Google for Entrepreneurs and other corporate partners.
The Right Plate was created by Bishara Korkor, UO PhD candidate in physics, and UO undergraduate computer science majors Garett Roberts, Cole Vikupitz, Cody Hatfield, and John Brawner—who is a double major in business. The all-student team developed the idea and created a working prototype during the 54-hour event starting November 13 and running through November 15.
"Startup weekend was an phenomenal experience," said Roberts, a UO Entrepreneurship Club member and cofounder of The Right Plate. "It empowered me to call on my existing skills while also learning new ones, and it helped me make meaningful connections with like-minded people that wanted to make change. It will forever be known as one of my favorite events attended in college."
Added cofounder Vikupitz, "This event has been a great experience for me. I'm learning a lot of useful new skills in programming and also working with a great team. I'm looking forward to the future development of The Right Plate and seeing where it will take us."
This year’s Startup Weekend Eugene/Springfield was produced by Fertilab Thinkubator and took place at the Fertilab Startup Center in Springfield. A record number of more than 100 community members participated, with nine teams presenting to judges, which included John Helmick, CEO of Gorilla Capital; Jeff Tunnell, cofounder of Spotkin LLC; and Kim Fraser, SVP Business Development at Bankrate Inc.
Speakers included Beth Esponnette, UO assistant professor in product design, and Aaron Sarnoff-Wood, cofounder of 2 Towns Ciderhouse. Startup Weekend Eugene/Springfield sponsors included Lane Workforce Partnership, Gorilla Capital and University of Oregon partners RAIN@UO, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, School of Journalism and Communication, and the School of Architecture and Allied Arts' Product Design Program. Izzy G food truck provided catering. Technology consultant and advisor Travis Cannon facilitated the event.
In addition to the above events, additional activities took place on campus throughout 2015's Global Entrepreneurship Week. Those included a UO School of Law presentation on titled "Business Entity Considerations for Entrepreneurs," an "Arts and Entrepreneurship" panel discussion hosted by the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, "15 Startups in 50 Minutes: Entrepreneurs Building Journalism’s Future" hosted by the School of Journalism and Communication, and an open house at the Lokey Science Complex.