Twelve graduate startup teams from across North America competed in the third annual Heartland Challenge, a competition designed to simulate the process of raising venture capital for a high-growth enterprise, over the past weekend. The Challenge was hosted by the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business and overseen by UA’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with support from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.
Alice Walton, the founder of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Sequoia Capital Partner Jim Goetz headlined an all-star list of speakers and judges Friday, April 15, in a keynote event at Crystal Bridges’ Great Hall in Bentonville.
This year’s winner was KLAW industries, KLAW Industries, a waste glass processing startup which turns glass sent to landfills into a cement replacement for concrete called Pantheon™. The KLAW Industries team is based at Binghamton University in New York and was represented by Jacob Kumpon and Nicholas Walling.
This year’s cash prize pool was more than $110,000, with the top prize originally set for $50,000, but the overall winner took home $100k after Goetz matched the top prize of $50,000.
The second place team received $25,000; third place received $10,000; and fourth place took home $5,000.
An ‘Investor Roundtable’ event took place alongside the main competition, engaging the student founders in informal discussions with active investors, simulating an experience of meeting in a restaurant or airport without the benefit of formal pitch decks or other materials. Event sponsors Cadron Capital Partners provided $3,000 awards to the winners of each of three roundtable events. Additional special awards were provided by sponsors Delta Solar, Atento Capital, Wright Lindsey Jennings, Natural Capital, John Chamberlin and Cannon Capital.
First and second place winners in the elevator pitch competition — decided by an audience vote — won $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.
BIG 4 WINNERS:
First place: $100,000
KLAW Industries, Binghamton University: Jacob Kumpon, Nicholas Walling
Second place: $25,000
EpiSLS, University of Michigan: Parker Martin, Cory Cooney
Third place: $10,000
Beam Commerce, University of Waterloo:Dhruv Patel, Armon Shokravi, Varun Kundra, Landon Fhur
Fourth place: $5,000
CiphrX Biotechnologies, University of Arkansas: Stephanie Gannon, PhD, Landon Burcham, Hailey Cole, Drake Harrison, Emilie Darrigues
First place: $3,000
Horizon Health Solutions, University of Arkansas: Amy Hopper, Dr. John Sherrill, Josh Walker, Solomon Isu
Second place: $2,000
Tie: CiphrX, KLAW Industries
Audience vote for $5,000 prize
EasyFlo, University of New Mexico: Alissa Chavez, Brianna Chavez, Anna Chavez
Atento Capital Grit Award: $3,000
Delta Solar Innovation Award: $2,000
Woman-Run by Wright Lindsey Jennings: $1,500
GammaVet, University of Arkansas: Shana Owens, PhD, Zachary Waldrip, PhD, Brett LittleJohn, Braden Bateman
Arkansas Community Foundation Health Impact in Arkansas Award: $1,000
Horizon Health Solutions
Natural Capital Economic Impact Award: $1,000
Pareto, Stanford Graduate School of Business: Jessica Landzberg, Olivia Bordson, Sydney West