Around this time every year the NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative, an interdisciplinary club that fosters student innovation and entrepreneurship, begins ramping up for its annual LuLu eGames competition. The eGames is for young, aspiring entrepreneurs to put their innovative ideas or startups to the test.
March 10, 2015
The Five Most Interesting New NCSU Startups
Analyzing the competition for the 2015 Lulu eGames
As a former ambassador and participant, I can attest to the value and experience the eGames offers to students. Two of last year’s winners, Undercover Colors and Track2Quit, have accelerated their growth after winning the competition.
Undercover Colors raised more than $250,000 in angel investment and earned international media attention (some good and some bad) prior to even launching the nail polish that detects date rape drugs in a beverage. Track2Quit (founders pictured above), now called Nicotrax, won the statewide Charlotte Venture Challenge in the undergraduate division for its device that helps smokers control their habit.
The eGames typically has three categories: the New Venture Challenge, which requires ventures to solve a pain or problem that has been identified and confirmed by market research; Design and Prototype Challenge, which requires a working prototype or product concept design; and the Arts Feasibility Study Challenge, targeted to students with an artistic approach to solving a viable pain or problem.
But there’s an added twist to the 2015 games. At the end of 2014, Verizon approached the EI about sponsoring a service and mobile application competition. Thus the Verizon Student Innovator Challenge was born. The challenge requires students develop a rough prototype that addresses a business/community need, challenge or opportunity.
Over 50 young entrepreneurs have set off onto a journey of discovery guided by the strict requirements of the eGames. While the intrigue has both increased and intensified, so too has the competition.
Since semifinalists have already been identified in three out of the four categories, I decided to do some digging to find the most interesting startups and ideas that this year’s eGames has to offer.
Bees are important to so many different life forms around us, but where can they live in urban areas? This Durham non-profit answers the question by providing educational and sustainability programs to promote urban beekeeping and community involvement within metropolitan areas. Founded by Leigh-Kathryn Bonner (also an ExitEvent marketing intern), an international studies major with minors in Spanish and non-profit studies, the idea was first conceived on a study abroad trip to Barcelona. While there, she read an article about urban beekeeping in the U.S., and its prevalence in the North. That got her thinking about bringing the practice south.
The non-profit has been around for about a year and has its own beehives at the American Tobacco campus in Durham. It was recently selected as a finalist for the Institute for Emerging Issues SECU Prize for Innovation.
A complete list of all semi-finalist startups in the competition can be found on the Entrepreneurship Initiative website. The final round of competition, as well as the public award ceremony will be held on Tuesday, April 28th.