Jonathan Wachob and Brandon Carpenter took first place in the Florida Venture Conference Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition by presenting their proposal for Feynman Nano. Their company creates nanostructures that make solar panels more efficient in producing energy. This victory follows their second-place finish in last month’s UCF Joust New Venture Challenge. This is the second time in as many weeks that a team from UCF took first place in an entrepreneurship conference.
Competitors from universities around Florida were provided six minutes to present their business plan, then field five minutes of questions from a panel of four judges. This year teams from University of Florida, University of South Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, University of Miami, Rollins College, Stetson University and University of North Florida competed in the competition.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” said Cameron Ford, Ph.D., director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership hosted by the UCF College of Business. “We have Brandon, an engineering major, and Jon, a math major, commercializing UCF faculty research by leveraging resources provided by our campus-wide center. This is a great example of how entrepreneurial resources can enrich both the education and research missions of the entire university.
According to the conference website, the Florida Venture Forum invited universities to bring their best candidates to “compete before a panel of judges to win placement as a presenter in the 2015 Early Stage Conference. The Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition has given students the opportunity to raise their level of real world professional focus and funding for their ventures.”
“UCF student ventures are doing really well in entrepreneurship competitions because we have such great access to the people and resources that make us better business people,” said Feynman team member Jonathan Wachob. “We currently have five companies using the startup resources provided by the UpStarts Student Venture Accelerator in the UCF College of Business that are on the verge of breaking out in the marketplace.”
Beginning in 2013, the College of Business partnered with the Blackstone Foundation, Florida High Tech Corridor and others to open the UCF/Blackstone LaunchPad, #UCFBusiness Starter Lab and Upstarts Student Venture Accelerator. More than 8,000 students have been engaged by the LaunchPad and 5 student ventures are launching out of the accelerator.
“Our objective is to create a culture of entrepreneurship university-wide and to help our students develop a much sharper business acumen,” said #UCFBusiness Dean Paul Jarley, Ph.D. “Watching our students come home with the first place awards is a definite sign that our program is working quite well. In addition, we are seeing a significant increase in student interest in these programs.”