Makayla Leiting, an Entrepreneurship student at UNO, took first place with her startup, Smart Sort, and received a $500.00 check for her efforts. Makayla also won a trip to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization global conference in Tampa, Florida on October 28-30 where she will represent UNO. Makayla and her team developed Smart Sort at Breakthrough Weekend 2021. Smart Sort is developing trash bins that sort through trash into recyclables and trash. Smart sort is driven to be an eco-friendly startup while also providing valuable waste analytics to customers.
Second place was awarded to Khylie Kight an IT Innovation student at UNO with KITE’s Innovation lab. KITE’s goal is to create a platform that gives its users an inside perspective of productivity. Users can easily see the progress of all participates in their projects through the platform. This will increase the overall efficiency and understanding between the participants. Khylie successfully brought home $300.00 for her business idea.
Third place was awarded to Tera Maher an IT Innovation student at UNO with her startup, RoadEvac. RoadEvac is an app that will instruct and lead people to the closest and safest shelter when there is a hurricane. Her goal for the app, once it is fully developed, is for the government to use it to improve their existing system. Tera won $200.00 for her proposal.
Besides the talented participants, CIEF is honored to have wonderful judges who gave valuable feedback in the preliminary and final round. Dennis Einspahr is the founder of Tour Golf League, Laura Haberman is the owner of Healing Tree Counselling, Dana Dyksterhuis is the Co-founder of HERE, Trevon Brooks is the North Omaha Business Development Manager, Dr. Hamza Haqqi is the founder and educational consultant of Learnza, LLC, Dr. Xiaoming Yang is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at UNO, Kristi Lynch is the MBA Director at UNO, Euloge Sekle is a Business Specialist at Wells Fargo, Chris Flaxbeard is the owner of Flaxbeard Insurance Advisors, and Hanah Nodskov is a UNO CBA Alumni and founder of Hannah Caroline Couture.
This year’s BigIdea! Pitch Contest brought in almost 30 students to pitch their innovative and original business idea. While there were only eight finalists, the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Franchising is proud and supportive of each student’s hard work. All contestants and students of UNO are invited to a free consultation with CIEF director and founder, Dr. Dale Eesley, and assistant director, Levi Cermak.
A special thanks to Wells Fargo, Aksarben Foundation, Nebraska Tech Collaborative and Tour Golf League for their generous support and partnerships.