Winners of the fifth annual University of Northern Colorado Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge were announced during the televised event on Saturday, March 29, on 9News/Channel 20. A replay of the event is now available on-demand at mcb-echallenge.com. The winner of the challenge was IX Power Clean Water, second place was Tabrific LLC and third place was Congo.
The five finalists presented their business plans to a panel of judges in a "Shark Tank" format at 9NEWS studios in Denver. Judges for the Entrepreneurial Challenge included Dick Monfort, owner and CEO of the Colorado Rockies; Brad Cheedle, senior vice president of Business Services for WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone; and Chris Onan, co-founder and managing director of Galvanize. Gregg Moss, business reporter and 9NEWS anchor, was again the emcee for the event. The winners received a total of $50,000 in prize money and business incubator services from UNC BizHub, the new business incubator at the University of Northern Colorado.
The first-place prize of $25,000 went to IX Powerclean Water, which commercializes clean water and safe power innovations that were developed at U.S. Department of Energy laboratories. Its first product, OrganiClear, was developed to remove toxic organic hydrocarbons from water used in oil and gas operations, agriculture, mining and other industrial processes.
"Although we've been working on the launch of our product OrganiClear for over a year, the program the challenge put us through really focused our thinking on the market, prospective customers, and how we can raise capital to achieve our business goals. We are excited to be this year's E-Challenge grand prize winner," said IX Power Clean Water CEO John R. "Grizz" Deal.
Second place and winner of $15,000 is Tabrific LLC, which offers customers a more personalized gifting option for creating experiences around an idea, product or event. Text, video and audio can be used in a secure email message to the gift recipient, also allowing for last-minute and long-distance gifting.
"We are very grateful for being an integral part of the Entrepreneurial Challenge. This competition delivered invaluable exposure to the northern Colorado entrepreneurship community and furthermore, yielded great feedback from potential consumers," said Carl Truong, co-founder of Tabrific LLC. "As a consumer facing platform, one of the exciting parts of this challenge was the ability to share our product and observe which functions our potential users were most excited about. Tabrific plans to use the funds for customer acquisition strategies and technical development including the implementation of military grade SSL encryption to keep our users safe. The prize money will help us launch our Beta platform, expected to go live this summer."
Third place and winner of $10,000 is Congo, an online platform providing users with instant access to a fee-based live video chat with a qualified doctor or lawyer of their choice. In-person visits with pre-qualified providers are also available.
"Congo is developing a platform solution that will change the way individuals and expert professionals interact. While the $10,000 cash prize will immediately be put to use in driving our business forward, the biggest reward comes from the validation and exposure that comes with winning" said Willy Ogorzaly, Founder and CEO of Congo. "We were honored by the opportunity to put our concept in front of the knowledgeable and well-respected judges at the Monfort College of Business E-Challenge and are encouraged by their vote of confidence. The event was only made possible by the amazing people involved. Everyone associated with the event was passionate about entrepreneurship and always willing to help. I can say with 100 percent confidence that our company is stronger because of the Monfort College of Business E-Challenge."
"The judges were very impressed with the caliber of business plans presented," said David Thomas, assistant professor of management and director of the Entrepreneurial Challenge. "We are looking forward to another highly competitive event. The 9NEWS partnership and broadcast on Channel 20 was a great addition to this year's challenge and has provided a broader audience with a view of the exciting ventures being built here in Colorado. We are looking forward to making next year's competition bigger and even better."
For more information about the competition visit www.mcb-echallenge.com.
To learn more about the finalists who competed in this year's challenge, visit their respective websites.
IX Powerclean Water: www.ixpower.com
Omirown Entertainment LLC: www.omirown.com
Tabrific LLC: www.tabrific.com
About the Monfort College of Business
The Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado is recognized for delivering excellence in business education. It is the first and only business program to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award from the Office of the President of the United States (2004). The college has been accredited by AACSB International for 20 years — the "gold standard" for accreditation. The college is one of an elite few worldwide that are accredited in both business administration and accounting. Over 10 successive years Monfort's graduating seniors have scored in the top 4 to 10 percent on nationwide standardized exit exams. For more information, visit Monfort's website at mcb.unco.edu.