MS Entrepreneurship students flood Dempsey Startup Competition with viable ventures

The Just Right Bite team with their oversized check at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge.

Students in the Foster School’s Master of Science in Entrepreneurship Program are proving to be masters of the student entrepreneurship competition.

Eight of the 36 teams selected for the investment round of this year’s Dempsey Startup Competition—the marquee event of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship for the past 25 years—have at least one founder in the MS in Entrepreneurship Program.

This is the third time in the five years of the program’s existence that MS in Entrepreneurship students have figured into eight or more Dempsey Startup investment round selections.

Maybe that’s not so surprising from a graduate degree program with entrepreneurship built into its very name. As a result, its students bring some advanced preparation and powerful weapons into new venture competition.

“The MS in Entrepreneurship assembles a diverse cohort of students to learn key entrepreneurial frameworks and explore the vast richness of UW resources and connections, all while developing their new ventures,” says Samantha Ogle, program director. “The strength of the cohort is powerful. There’s a magic happening here as entrepreneurs gather from around the world to go through this process together, present unique perspectives and support each other.”

Pompi Gomez and Owen Chen at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge.

The contenders

Here are eight great Dempsey Startup Competition contenders co-founded by MS in Entrepreneurship students:

Château sur Roues—or “Winery on Wheels” en Francais—is a mobile wine bar, created by Kelly Sweeney, that specializes in sustainably sourced, blind wine tastings at convenient locations.

DevMatch, founded by Alan Gonzalez, is a coding assessment platform that crowdsources real-life challenges and automatically evaluates candidates for software engineer positions.

Disha Stay Network, founded by Pratha Mandwal with Veronica Gu and Madhurima Manchala, offers an online booking platform to make it easier for patients and families to find convenient lodging solutions at charity houses during out-of-town care treatment visits.

Just Right Bite, founded by Mallory Morse with Chelsea Fletcher and Hannah Walls-Scott, is developing an end-to-end pet food system that uses insects as a more sustainable and tolerable protein base. Morse & Co. won the Herbert B. Jones Foundation Second Place Prize at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge in April.

Limis, founded by Evan Wasik, provides user-friendly software solutions for the industrial manufacturing industry that alleviate frontline worker frustration and help prevent production stoppage.

Nature Resonance, founded by Lucy Martin, seeks to address worker burnout by offering restorative nature retreats that provide equitable education and health outcomes for better work/life balance.

Ultropia, founded by UW electrical and computer engineers joined by Lloyd Dees of MS Entre, is developing an all-in-one washer and dryer so people with limited infrastructure can gain access to safe, efficient and sustainable laundry service. In April, Ultropia won the Best Idea for Climate Impact Prize and a Connie Bourassa-Shaw Spark Award at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Impact Challenge.

Vita Beads, founded by Owen (Pei-Hsuan) Chen with Pompi Gomez, uses cell-embedded technology to increase wastewater treatment efficiency by reducing the output of “sludge” and lowering operation costs. Chen also was part of the founding team of Catalytic Carbon, which won the Alaska Airlines Grand Prize and Clean Energy Prize at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge in April.

The Dempsey Startup Competition investment round takes place May 5 and culminates in the final round May 26.