MOSCOW — Through innovative cybersecurity and construction safety solutions, University of Idaho students have won a total of $37,000 in Idaho’s largest entrepreneurial competition, Boise Entrepreneur Week.
U of I students ranked highest in the annual competition held by Boise State University. Earnings support the development of interdisciplinary business plans designed as a team to address unique challenges.
Cybersecurity Competition First Place and Life’s a Pitch Intty Winner Anantachote, a Senior Virtual Technology and Design, won $13,000 for her cybersecurity training tool Gamified Scam Awareness Training. Its tool uses virtual reality to help educate seniors 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 am constantly encouraged to think about how to use my technology and design skills to impact healthcare, education and our society,” said declared Anantachote. “My education at the U of I has gone a long way in supporting my success in this entrepreneurial competition and creating a product that will fill a gap in public cybersecurity education.”
Sam Slusser, senior finance and PGA golfer at the College of Business and Economics (CBE), also took first place, winning $10,000 in the Hacking for Homebuilding competition for StrapWell Bags, a bag he designed for lock onto safe and secure ties for any type of transport or travel.
Competitors in the Homebuilding and Cybersecurity Challenges offer solutions to problems provided by industry leaders and showcase their solutions for cash prizes. It’s an opportunity for competitors to build viable businesses and connect with mentors and industry leaders. Competitors in the Life’s a Pitch contest 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 start at the intersection of skills,” said George Tanner, Idaho Entrepreneurs Director and U of I Lead Instructor. “At U of I, we bring together engineers, virtual designers, scientists and students with entrepreneurs and business students. This powerful combination of thinkers and doers leads to great outcomes like competitive success and the 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, winning $4,000 for NADIS, a cybersecurity security company helping companies verify users with access privileges.
Trail and Higley are seniors in the College of Engineering’s cybersecurity program, the premier bachelor’s degree program in Idaho and one of the few in the region. King and Sivula are computer science seniors, also studying at the College of Engineering.
Construction of houses:
Susie Johnson, Leonard Johnson and Shane Elmose’s portable heating solution for winter construction sites, Heat2Go!, won the team second place and $7,000. Susie Johnson and Leonard Johnson are studying entrepreneurship at CBE. Elmose has a degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering.
Deanna Kienbaum, McKenna Jacobs, and Anantachote took third place, winning $3,000 for their Gamified Customer Care training simulation. The first-person virtual reality tool helps new customer service recruits develop their emotional intelligence and professional skills. Kienbaum and Jacobs are responsible for human resources at CBE.