Three groups of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi students pitched their original business ideas to a panel of judges at the seventh annual Buc Days Ideas Challenge Wednesday.
The “Shark Tank”-like business concept competition is open to all Islander students and offers them a way to test a business idea, technology or innovations in a competitive setting.
The first-place team was awarded $2,500 and advanced to compete at the Raymond Ideas Challenge at the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University in College Station. They also won free Whataburger for a year.
Second place was awarded $1,500 and third place $1,000. All three finalists received a one-year membership to the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center Student Incubator — a program designed to assist clients in the early stage of development on their business venture.
Out of 59 applicants, the three finalists were My Wine Compass by Genevieve Ridgway, Solva Skincare by Michael Denton and Dawson Pietsch, and MiProRodeo by Jordyn Barker and Caleb Thomas.
Attendees in the crowd, along with three professional judges, voted on which team would win.
Barker and Thomas’ MiProRodeo took home the grand prize with Denton and Pietsch placing second and Ridgway third.
The app, pronounced My Pro Rodeo, is a “one-stop shop for all things professional rodeo.”
Barker said the benefits for the app are aimed toward athletes, judges and fans.
“For fans, they’re able to download tickets straight to their digital wallets, earn points for VIP experiences and livestream Cowboy Channel Plus,” Barker told a crowd of attendees. “The athletes are able to enter receipt payouts and see their next go-around instantly. The judges are able to use in-app scoring, change scores directly from the arena floor, as well as add penalties and reduce discrepancies.”
Thomas, who has eight years of experience in the rodeo industry, said the demographic in rodeo is rapidly expanding and becoming more tech savvy.
“Our technologies remain the same: old-fashioned, outdated and washed out,” Thomas said. “When we think of professional sports applications, we think about sports betting and all those things you see in the NFL, the MLB or the UFC. We realize too that rodeo would benefit from a more interactive consumer experience.”
Marketing assistant professor Jennifer Taylor, one of the three judges, said she chose MiProRodeo because it seemed further along in development and closer to being launched.
“They all had great ideas, but it was hard to choose just one,” Taylor said. “I really hope the audience took from today how you can take your passion and turn it into a profitable idea that could suddenly turn into a business and legacy for your family. Each of our contestants did that today.”
Barker said she’s looking forward to the free Whataburger for a year, but is grateful to have won.
“Hopefully, we can get an investor and take this to the next level,” Barker said. “This experience alone has been life-changing, but to have this become real would be something else.”
John Oliva covers education and community news in South Texas. Contact him at [email protected] or Twitter @johnpoliva. Consider supporting local journalism with a subscription to the Caller-Times.
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: TAMUCC hosts seventh annual Buc Days Ideas Challenge business showcase