Students compete for $30,000


Josh Lehner / Advance-Titan Award-winners pose with their trophies after winning the Culver’s Business Model Competition. Finalists split $30,000 in prizes.

Josh Lehner, Assistant News Editor

Ten UW Oshkosh student entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, hoping to win part of the $30,000 up for grabs during last week’s Culver’s Business Model Competition.

The annual event provides students with the opportunity to gain funding and other resources for their startup businesses.

Presenters were given four minutes to showcase their business, followed by two minutes of questions from the panel of judges.

The top three finalists took home splits of the $30,000 prize, while first and second place qualified to compete in “The Pitch” — a startup business pitch competition for college student teams.

Colin Schuler won first place for his company, Spot2Hunt, which he called the “Airbnb of the hunting industry.” He received $5,000 in cash and $10,000 in kind. 

Through an app, landowners would be able to rent their property to hunters for a designated period of time. By partnering with landowners, Schueler said his company already has access to over 1,200 acres of hunting land.

Schuler said the idea for his company came to him because he was always trying to improve his hunting.

“Hunting really is my true passion,” he said. “[But] I never thought I would be pitching a hunting idea … I’ve been meaning to do this competition for a couple of years, and I finally set aside the time. So it all just came together perfectly.”

Schuler plans on using the prize money to develop his app and website.

Baylee Cottrell won second place for her company, Blush House, which rents vacation-style homes that double as bridal suites. Her business would provide the proper lighting, seating and accommodations for stylists and photographers.

Cottrell, who won $3,500 in cash and $6,500 in kind, said that winning was a massive honor, especially as a woman in entrepreneurship, and that the prize money will be used to help develop key aspects of her business.

“I would love to start looking into properties in the Oshkosh area,” she said. “I’m excited to put it toward my education in bridal, weddings and my own business that I have now. [There are] lots of possibilities.”

Both Schuler and Cottrell represented UWO at the Pitch Event on April 19.

Cole Saathoff won third place — worth $1,500 in cash and $3,500 in kind — for his company, Luster Technology, which aims at creating fully customizable, touch-activated light switches.

Saathoff said his prize money will go toward patents.

Guests voted for the winner of the $250 People’s Choice Award. Alex Ziegler won with his company, Zeki Tea, a specialty tea aimed at promoting mental and physical health.

In addition to various flavors and brews, the teas correspond to different aspects of health and wellness, such as stress relief, meditation and sleep wellness. Ziegler also designed an app that, in conjunction with the tea, helps promote wellness.

Some of the other pitches included Adrian Girone’s company Rzad Softworks, a restaurant reservation system that lays out a restaurant’s menu and seating availability in real-time through an app or website.

Maggie and Malik Baiyewu pitched their company Life Map, a mobile app that would store personal and family information, such as passwords and legal documents.

Ryan Sommercorn pitched VM Now, an on-campus vending machine that would provide over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, school supplies and every-day essentials.

Among the event’s attendees was UWO alumnus and Culver’s founder Craig Culver, who spoke to guests about the Culver’s franchise and the student entrepreneurs.

“I’ve been doing this [speech] since the inception, and this was the 10 best presentations I’ve seen,” Culver said. “When I was going to school, I wasn’t thinking how they (the student entrepreneurs) are thinking. If you truly have passion for what you do, and you have a concept, I’ll almost guarantee your success.”