Top Three Named in Annual UIW Startup Challenge

December 8, 2023

The results are in for the 2023 UIW Startup Challenge! Hosted by the UIW H-E-B School of Business and Administration’s (HEBSBA) Beckendorf Center for Innovation and Global Entrepreneurship, the challenge’s final competition took place on Friday, Dec. 1, and three teams from UIW walked away with cash prizes to jumpstart their business ventures.

This year’s Startup Challenge theme was “Impact, Innovation, & Sustainability.” Participating teams were tasked with pitching new and creative solutions to real-world problems that support economic growth. In fulfillment of UIW’s Mission, this competition specifically looks for ideas that will solve social problems on a global scale (health care, healthy food, electricity), offer value and wealth creation for people living below the poverty line in the U.S. and abroad, explore international or cross-border opportunities, and/or offer products or services to businesses rather than individual consumers.

Over the course of the fall semester, student teams completed workshops, received mentoring and fine-tuned business models and pitches in the hopes of advancing to the final round. Five teams presented their business models and fielded questions from Startup Challenge judges this month. After hearing the five presentations, judges - La Juana Chambers Lawson, founder & CEO of Tacit Growth Strategies; Chris Edelen, owner & CEO at Safe Showers LLC; Dr. Reid Fisher, UIW MS in Athletic Training director; and Amy Lynn Johnson, founder of The Dog Guide – deliberated and decided upon the three winning champions.

A group of students from UIW Campus Bajío in Irapuato, Mexico took home the 1st place $8,000 seed money prize for their model of a sustainable automated irrigation system business called 2Hydro Hero. RGV Freeze Dried Treats, a startup aiming to create pet treats from invasive species in Texas, earned the 2nd place prize and $2,000 in funding. Finally, GYV, a business focused on holistic, clean energy solutions to promote more sustainable lifestyles, won 3rd place and $1,000 in funding.

In a joint statement, Beckendorf Center Directors Dr. Jose Moreno and Dr. Teresa Harrison shared: “The 2023 UIW HEBSBA Startup Challenge was an opportunity for teams of student entrepreneurs to pitch innovative ideas to a panel of judges, and compete for funding. These students were dedicated to meeting with their mentors and completing workshops to refine their ideas. We started with 21 teams and the final event culminated in presentations from five finalist teams. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners were chosen based on criteria like feasibility, creativity, scalability, and market potential. These events which bring students together from across any of our UIW campuses, programs, and disciplines, foster networking opportunities, provide exposure for startups, and offer valuable resources for growth. We thank all mentors and judges for their dedication to our students and thank the student teams for participating. Congratulations to all teams for their effort and hard work creating solutions for problems that need to be solved and expanding the entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus.”

The H-E-B School of Business and Administration (HEBSBA) is committed to holding a successful challenge annually to highlight and reward the dedication of entrepreneurs at the University of the Incarnate Word.