MOSCOW — Through innovative solutions in cybersecurity and construction safety, University of Idaho students won a total of $37,000 in Idaho’s largest entrepreneurial competition, Boise Entrepreneur Week.
U of I students have earned top placement in the annual competition hosted by Boise State University. Winnings support developing interdisciplinary, team-designed business plans to address unique challenges.
First place cybersecurity competition and Life’s a Pitch winner Intty Anantachote, a senior in virtual technology and design, earned $13,000 for her cybersecurity training tool Gamified Scam Awareness Training. Her tool uses virtual reality to help educate senior citizens and students about the dangers of social engineering scams that exploit a person’s trust to obtain money or confidential information.
“As a U of I student, I’m constantly encouraged to think about how to use my technological and design skills to have an impact in healthcare, education and our society,” Anantachote said. “My education at U of I greatly helped support my success in this entrepreneurial competition, and to create a product that will fill a gap in public cybersecurity training.”
Finance and PGA golf senior Sam Slusser in the College of Business and Economics (CBE) also won first place, taking home $10,000 in the Hacking for Homebuilding competition for StrapWell Bags, a bag he designed to latch onto tie downs that is safe and secure for any type of hauling or moving.
Competitors in the homebuilding and cybersecurity challenges propose solutions to problems provided by industry leaders and pitch their solutions for cash prizes. It’s an opportunity for competitors to build viable ventures and connect with mentors and industry leaders. Competitors in the Life’s a Pitch competition are sponsored by U of I’s Idaho Entrepreneurs and pitch their own unique business ideas to judges, including 50 Boise business owners and executives.
“Almost all great startups begin at the intersection of skillsets,“ said Idaho Entrepreneur Director and U of I Senior Instructor George Tanner. “At U of I, we bring engineers, virtual designers, scientists and students together with entrepreneurs and business students. This powerful combination of thinkers and doers leads to great results like competition success and to real startups our students create.”
U of I teams also placed in the following categories:
Ian King, David Trail, Nathan Higley and Sophia Grace Sivula took second place, earning $4,000 for NADIS, a cybersecurity safety company helping businesses verify users with access privileges.
Trail and Higley are seniors in the College of Engineering’s cybersecurity program, the first bachelor’s program in Idaho and one of the few in the region. King and Sivula are computer science seniors, also studying in the College of Engineering.
Susie Johnson, Leonard Johnson and Shane Elmose’s portable heat solution for winter construction sites, Heat2Go!, earned the team second place and $7,000. Susie Johnson and Leonard Johnson study entrepreneurship in CBE. Elmose is a mechanical engineering senior in the College of Engineering.
Deanna Kienbaum, McKenna Jacobs and Anantachote took third place, earning $3,000 for their training simulation Gamified Customer Care. The first-person virtual reality tool helps new hires in customer care develop emotional intelligence and career-specific skills. Kienbaum and Jacobs are human resources seniors in CBE.