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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

University of Florida student startups win prizes in Innovation Hub competition

Three UF student-run startup companies won thousands of dollars in cash prizes and services at the Entrepreneurship Club’s Fourth Annual Venture Pitch Competition on Monday.

The UF Entrepreneurship Club hosted the competition at the Florida Innovation Hub at UF.

Nine companies in the club pitched their startups to six judges, who were all potential investors.

First place went to Partender, a software that reduces the amount of time it takes to do liquor inventory from six hours to 30 minutes or less. It increases the accuracy of measurement of alcohol in a bottle.

The company won $5,000 for legal services from Edwards Wildman, $500 from Wolf Greenfield, three hours of free limo service from Fabulous Coach Lines and 14 hours of human resource services and consulting from FloridaWorks.

Nikhil Kundra and Alisa Wills, co-founders of Partender, started the company in November.

“The legal services can be used for anything, and the idea of giving back to our team is perfect,” said Kundra, a 22-year-old entrepreneurship master’s student.

Valerie Sheehan, president of the UF Entrepreneurship Club and event coordinator at the Innovation Hub, said she’s proud of the companies’ work ethics.

“We’ve been trying to get the club where it needs to be and create jobs,” she said. “Some of the members stay up all night and go without sleep.”

Second place went to ParkSharp, an online marketplace for event parking spots.

ParkSharkp CEO Matt Carroll, 23, said the idea is useful for game days in Gainesville when people sell parking spots in their driveways and on their lawns. Sellers can state what they think their parking spots are worth and buyers can state what they are willing to pay.

Carroll, a digital arts and sciences master’s student, said he’s excited about winning second place in the competition, especially since the company is only 10 days old.

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“A lot of what we got were legal services, and we definitely need those the most,” he said.

Pick.It, a tool that helps businesses retrieve marketing data for their products, won third place.

Brian Johnson, who works for Microsoft and helped judge the competition, said he was impressed by the quality of the presentations from the students.

“The big thing of whether or not the companies are going to be successful is the drive of the entrepreneurs that created the companies,” he said. “I think the ideas are really that good, and it’s going to take that kind of person to drive them to success.”

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