Chris Melillo and Krista Adams explain their company Board to Death, which builds and designs customized snowboards.

Startup winners

Horn Program in Entrepreneurship announces winners of Hen Hatch competition

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10:18 a.m., May 2, 2014--After competing since early March to prove their entrepreneurial ideas worthy of recognition and funding, three teams in two tracks emerged as the winners of this year’s Hen Hatch, the University of Delaware’s premier business startup funding competition.

Pitches by teams from both the student track and alumni, faculty and staff track of Hen Hatch were evaluated by a panel of expert judges, including Neil Book, president and CEO, Jet Support Services; Brian Harvell, vice president, Product Engineering, SevOne; Jennie Horn, founder and chief creative officer, Second Base; John Petterson, senior vice president, Operations, Tiffany & Co.; Mike Phelan, venture partner, Osage Venture Partners; and Mark Parsells, executive chairmain and CEO, GDR Acquisitions Company.

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Although the competition is hosted by the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, the participants represented a diverse mix of backgrounds, including entrepreneurship and technology innovation, finance, economics and visual communication, and university studies.

Hailing from an engineering background, Asmita and Anand Atre, finalists in the alumni, faculty and staff track, presented their idea for Jaggery, an improved process for manufacturing the traditional Indian sweetener of the same name.

Asmita Atre, who earned her master’s of mechanical engineering online and graduated from UD in 2008, said the business concept is meant not only to improve the product’s shelf life but also increase efficiencies in labor and production.

“As we build energy equipment we are always looking for opportunities to conserve energy and better society,” said Atre, who developed the idea with her brother, a food science expert, and a childhood friend, an energy engineer who specializes in sustainability energy technology.

She called participating in Hen Hatch “a substantial step toward winning investor confidence” in the business concept.

The event also featured a keynote address by Phelan, as well as an entrepreneurial exhibition featuring several student and alumni startups.

Awards ceremony

After all pitches were completed, the judges awarded monetary prizes from a $50,000 prize pool to each of the teams.

Awards in the student track included:

  • $5,100 to ShopTutors, an online tutor booking platform, led by Nathaniel Matherson, Matt Lenhard and Nathaniel Taylor;
  • $4,900 to Udwell, a comprehensive website for off-campus housing, led by Yael Bloom and Tali Cohen; and
  • $3,500 to Board to Death, a company that builds and designs customized snowboards, led by Chris Melillo and Krista Adams.

Awards in the alumni, faculty and staff track included:

  • $8,500 to PenguinAds, an out-of-home advertising media that uses the everyday commuter, led by Mac Nagaswami;
  • $2,000 to Jaggery, an improved process for jaggery manufacturing, led by Asmita and Anand Atre; and
  • $1,800 to Grasshopper Solutions, an eHarmony.com for your career, led by Liz Brenner, Nicole McCabe and Deb Stambaugh.

Udwell received special recognition and an additional $1,000 in prize money for being the audience’s choice. The wins marked a growing list of accolades for Bloom and Cohen, who also took home the top prize at last year’s annual Pitch Party competition for Udwell.

The remainder of the prize pool included services from organizations like Belfint, Lyons and Shuman; Barnes and Thornburg; Hunter Public Relations; The Company Corporation; Corporation Service Company; and Connolly Gallagher.

In addition to the Hen Hatch awards, Dan Freeman, director of the Horn Program in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, announced a number of scholarships.

The Delaware Innovation Fund Scott Jones Entrepreneurial Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 was awarded to Jaclyn Anninos, for her demonstration of an interest and passion for pursuing entrepreneurial and venture capital studies and education.

Ben Rapkin and Austin Crouse each received a $2,500 Shawn and Sheryl McCall Award for Entrepreneurship for their exhibition of entrepreneurial promise.

The Horn Program Award of $1,000, funded by annual gifts from the faculty who teach entrepreneur (ENTR)-designated courses and granted to a student who promises to realize great immediate benefit form the receipt of the award, went to Charles (CJ) Meyer.

Article by Kathryn Meier

Photos by Lane McLaughlin

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