The Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Franchising wrapped up the 11th annual Maverick Business Plan Competition on Tuesday, April 13, sponsored by Wells Fargo and Husch Blackwell. The competition brought together students of various majors from the University of Nebraska at Omaha to submit a simplified business plan that outlines their idea, the market, the competition, their competitive advantages, and how the business would generate a profit. This year, the final round of the competition was held on Zoom Webinar in which six finalists had five minutes to present their plan and five minutes for Q and A.
The Top Three
Kirsten Nelson: Shop Nelly Boutique
Kirsten Nelson, an Entrepreneurship student at UNO, took first place with her company, Shop Nelly Boutique, and received a $3,000 check for her efforts. Kirsten’s boutique has been up and running for over a year and a half. Not only are Shop Nelly’s clothes sourced ethically, but Kirsten takes great pride in ensuring they are high quality and offered at a great price, driving value for her customers. Kirsten is looking forward to expanding her company’s presence by opening a storefront in the near future. Find more about Shop Nelly Boutique at shopnelly.com/
Nathan Hohensee, Anthony Boone, and Max Tomes: NftyRaise
Nathan Hohensee, Anthony Boone, and Max Tomes won runner-up with their company, NftyRaise. Their concept aims at tapping into the fundraising market through Nonfungible tokens (NFTs). This concept excited judges because of the new market opportunity and lack of competitors in this space. The team took home $2,000 in prize money for their ingenuity and creativity.
Akhil Kanodia: Lujota
Winning second runner-up and $1,000 was Lujota founded by Akhil Kanodia. Akhil investigated starting this business in India 10 years ago, but the market wasn’t ready for this technology at that time. Now that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are commonplace, he believes now is the right time to release Lujota. Lujota is a savings and payment platform based on gold and silver, backing the consumer's currency with a physical asset. The bullion-backed currency is both liquid and accessible to the consumer through a card.
Additional finalists who pitched business plans include Finance, Banking, and Investment student, Harrison Martindale, with FIMM, a platform that will simplify the process of connecting financial advisors and consumers. Brenda Andrews presented Solar Farm 101, which aims to grow sustainable energy in North Carolina through an innovative approach to solar farming. Renee Weilder, Michael Geohring, Gabe Ware, Rachel Harris, and David Tenoria-Fernandez made it to the finals with Team Finder, a platform where gamers can connect with and meet new players for competitive or leisurely gaming.
About the Competition
This year’s competition brought in almost 40 business plan submissions. While there were only six finalists, the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Franchising is proud and supportive of each student’s hard work. All contestants and students of UNO are invited to a free consultation with Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Franchising (CIEF) director and founder, Dr. Dale Eesley, and assistant director, Levi Cermak.
CIEF is also thankful for all the judges who helped give valuable feedback to the finalists. Tony Kiehn, a UNO and Harvard alumnus, was a member of the judging panel. Tony currently lives in San Francisco as the CFO of Bosonic and the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Fortis Pacific, an international private equity firm. Euloge Sekle represented Wells Fargo and works as an Assistant Vice President and Business Specialist at Wells Fargo. Sue Kutschkau was also on the panel of judges. Sue is the Executive Director of UNO Development at the University of Nebraska Foundation. The final judge on the panel was Spencer Robinson. Spencer is a graduate of UNO and currently works at Appsky as the CTO.
Find more about the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Franchising at unomaha.edu/college-of-business-administration/center-for-innovation-entrepreneurship-franchising/index.php
A special thanks to Wells Fargo and Husch Blackwell for their generous support and partnerships.