VentureStart challenge brings out the best in Aztec entrepreneurship

by Dave Spiva

The San Diego State Lavin Entrepreneurship Center hosted the VentureStart Competition finals this past Tuesday.

The VentureStart challenge is intended to bring together students from different parts of campus to devise a feasible entrepreneurial business model.

Center Director Bernhard Schroeder said the event connects a variety of diverse yet “like-minded” students. The event was open to students from all of SDSU’s seven colleges.

“They would never get this inside their class,” Schroeder said.

“I’m seeing more and more non-buisness students as of late, which I love,” Schroeder said. “A busness school kids can come up with a great idea for an app or product, but they can’t code it and can’t design it.”

During the event, teams presented their ideas to a panel of three entrepreneurial judges. Out of five competing finalists, three teams, consisting of SDSU students and alumni won a total of $900 in cash rewards.

The judges include Founder and CEO of Ideahaus Kevin Popovic, Digital Marketer at Nixon and SDSU alumni Scott Carrington and Co-founder and CEO of FieldLogix and SDSU alumni Yukon Palmer.

The first place and $500 winner team was Impaktiv. The team includes mechanical engineering graduate Keenan McCollom, finance senior Brian Kidwell, business management senior Alex Martinez, economics senior Kyle Good, and psychology senior Matt Better. Impaktiv presented what they called “the world’s thinnest portable battery charger.”

The second place and $250 winner was Tug Tamer Leashes. Business management senior Marissa Happee is the sole member of the team. She presented a dog leash that would put less strain on a dog’s neck.

The third place winner and $150 recipient was Crowd District. The team includes fine arts senior Nick Warner and communication graduate Andrew Little. The team presented a site that provides news and information about crowdfunding projects, such as the ones found on

Co-founder and CEO of FieldLogix and SDSU alumnus Yukon Palmer was one of the judges for the competition.

“What I was judging on was how they came up with a hypothesis and test it to determine whether it’s a viable opportunity or not,” Palmer said.

Schroeder said VentureStart isn’t only about the ideas that were presented, but about the larger picture.

“The competition is more about allowing them to look at how they would build an actual business model around a real idea,” Schroeder said.

Warner said the VentureStart competition confirmed that his team is on to something great.

“We have a foundation now,” Warner said.