BYU Teams Win Big at Utah Entrepreneur Challenge

PROVO, Utah – Apr 15, 2015 – Surrounded by entrepreneurial teams from other higher education institutions throughout the state, five Brigham Young University startups excelled at the annual Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.

BYU student-run SimpleCitizen, an online solution focused on simplifying the immigration application process, took first with a grand total of $45,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. 

“We hoped that we would take first place but there were some tough competitors,” says second-year MAcc student Sam Stoddard, CEO and co-founder of SimpleCitizen. “We were amazed and humbled and credit our success to a lot of preparation and mentoring.”

In an annual event where teams from all colleges and universities across the state are invited to participate, BYU teams using Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology resources and training have topped the competition each of the last four years at the UEC.

“We’re amazed at the amount of support we’ve had and thank everyone from the CET for their support in helping us come this far," Stoddard says. "There’s never been a better time for student entrepreneurs."

Scott Petersen, the CET managing director, says BYU’s winning streak demonstrates the success of CET’s use of principles from the book Nail It Then Scale It to test business ideas with customers before launching. Business model competitions, Petersen added, also provide early needed funds and feedback that provide additional assistance to student entrepreneurs.

“The results of the UEC are validation of our use of the business model canvas and seasoned mentors,” says Petersen.

Another beneficiary of the CET’s startup approach was KiLife Tech, a company promoting its wearable child-safety device. KiLife Tech finished in the top eight and received awards for Best Presentation, Best Tabling, Best Speed Pitch, Best Product and Best Video for a total of $12,000 in prizes.

Additional BYU finalists in the top 20 included Paper Trail, a website and mobile app used to track financial and accounting records eliminating the need for paper receipts; Vykon Technologies, a company focused on developing low-cost diagnostic solutions for movement disorders; and Haedrian, a mobile app which connects investors with entrepreneurs in developing countries.

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems and public management. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

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SimpleCitizen receives grand prize of $40,000 at the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. Photo from University of Utah

Media Contact: Chad Little
Writer: Joshua Jamias