UIW Startup Challenge has First International Winner

December 14, 2020

Holt Ventures Sponsors $10,000 First Prize

San Antonio - The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) is excited to announce a team of three students from Universidad Incarnate Word Campus Bajío (UIW Campus Bajío) as the winners of the 2020 Startup Challenge and a $10,000 first prize, sponsored by HOLT Ventures. The Startup Challenge, now in its third year, is hosted each fall semester by the H-E-B School of Business and Administration (HEBSBA) at UIW.

The winning startup, LU’UM, is comprised of UIW Campus Bajío students Valeria Ramos Curiel (accounting and finance), Diana Jazmin Casas Del Angel (industrial engineering), and Santiago Meza (marketing). LU'UM pitched their business plan and product to a panel of judges from various industries during the Startup Challenge Finals, held Dec. 6, 2020, via Zoom video conference due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

LU’UM seeks to reduce pollution and waste associated with millions of car tires and shoe soles going unrecycled in Mexico each year. Taking these unwanted and discarded materials, LU’UM transforms them into a new, widely applicable flooring material. The result is a product made from 90% recycled material that can be installed in schools, gyms, restaurants, parks and many other settings. The $10,000 first prize will help LU’UM further its operations in Mexico and begin exploring opportunities in other Latin American countries.

The Startup Challenge exists to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration at UIW and foster the entrepreneurial spirit of the University’s students through small business mentorship and financial funding. The Startup Challenge is sponsored by HOLT Ventures, the venture capital arm of HOLT CAT, the largest Caterpillar dealer in the United States.

"The competition this year was unique in terms of promoting UIW's Mission to foster global engagement," said Dr. Adesegun Oyedele, event organizer and associate professor of marketing and international business at UIW. "We leveraged the power of digital technology to begin the process of creating UIW's first cross-border digital startup incubator."

"This year's Startup Challenge Finals were excellent. Although the finalists were limited to presenting their projects via Zoom, they prepared very well. Our judges had a hard time deciding the winners," said Dr. Jose Moreno, event organizer and associate professor of finance at UIW. "Having competitors from universities in Mexico and Germany gave our students in San Antonio an unusual and high-level perspective of this event."

The Startup Challenge Finals keynote speaker, UIW Provost Dr. Barbara Aranda-Naranjo, spoke of the importance of understanding the global impact of our endeavors and appreciating the value of the different lived experiences of people around the world.

"I'm proud and very honored to say that at Incarnate Word we have always been about not only the content of the concepts, but operationalizing what you're learning," Dr. Aranda-Naranjo said. "We are so grateful for our sponsor, HOLT Ventures, for providing this opportunity for our students."

The generous sponsorship of HOLT Ventures allows the H-E-B School of Business and Administration to steward the allocation of $10,000 in annual funding to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Visit uiw.edu/startup-challenge to learn more about the Startup Challenge.

Valeria Ramos Curiel; Diana Jazmin Casas Del  Angel; Santiago Meza