BATON ROUGE – The LSU Student Incubator awarded $25,000 cash to five student-run startups during the culmination of the third-annual Venture Challenge on April 25. This is the third year the Venture Challenge has showcased LSU’s brightest student entrepreneurs, and the LSU Student Incubator plans to continue providing student business with the total startup experience next year.

lsu-student-incubator-awards-cashThe $25,000 prize was distributed among the five student businesses, including the four Venture Challenge finalists and the two “Audience Choice” Startup Showcase displays. One of the four finalists also won the “Audience Choice” prize.

The final round winners were:
The Hospitality & Senior Care Institute, which set a new Venture Challenge record with a cash prize of $15,000. The startup provides training in professional and workforce development and specializes in short-term hospitality, school nutrition and senior care training programs;

Foundations Family Fitness, which received a $3,000 award. The startup is a fitness center that utilizes psychological research to maximize program adherence and optimize health and fitness for the whole family;

Environmental Robotics Institute, which received a $2,000 prize. The startup is committed to implementing and developing environmental robotics systems and networks to build a better world and support global environmental sustainability;

E T C H Studios, which received $4,500 total from the final round and as the Startup Showcase “Audience Choice” winner. The startup is a laser-cut jewelry business focusing on crafting unique, geometric and edgy accessories for the social media generation; and

Mashball, which received the $500 runner-up prize for the Startup Showcase “Audience Choice” display for their tailgate, beach and outdoor game.

A panel of 18 local judges from the professional community selected four of the 14 student teams to advance to the final live-pitch round of the Venture Challenge. The finalists pitched their business plans during the final round and answered questions from the four final judges including CFO of Louisiana Funds Richard Babb, local civil engineer Niraj Kumar, CEO and President of Forte and Tablada Inc. Ann Forte Trappey and Partner at Jones Walker Law Firm Robert “Bob” Tucker. The judges evaluated the finalist’s presentations and question response to determine the cash amount each finalist would receive from $23,500. The remaining $1,500 went to the “Audience Choice” winner and runner-up from the Startup Showcase.

The LSU Student Incubator assists students with business idea development to create a post-graduation career option. The program was launched in 2010 and has supported over 50 student-run startups annually. The incubator provides students with one-on-one consulting, business planning software, professional mentors and speakers, an Elevator Pitch Competition, the Annual Venture Challenge and other valuable resources needed to start and grow a business. The LSU Student Incubator is a program of the Louisiana Business & Technology Center at the LSU Innovation Park, which endeavors to enhance economic development in Louisiana by supporting and developing small businesses. For more information on the LSU Student Incubator visit

04/30/2014 01:18 PM