UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
July 21, 2016--University of Wisconsin-River Falls Director for the Center for Innovation and Business Development Danielle Campeau announced today that students Michael Mader and Edward Matsushima and Associate Professor of Physics Matthew Vonk have each been selected for a $25,000 Ideadvance grant.
Ideadvance is a seed fund created by the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and is administered by UW-Extension. Ideadvance grants support UW student, staff or faculty entrepreneurs while they test the viability of products and business ideas.
Mader, a recent UW-River Falls marketing graduate, was selected for the grant by placing first at the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament. He went on to compete at the International Business Model Competition against students from around the world with his social enterprise idea Hippy Feet. The number one requested item in homeless shelters, according to the Salvation Army, is socks. Hippy Feet provides a solution to this problem by offering a buy-one give-one product. Purchasing the organic, durable wool sock allows the customer to give back as a pair of socks is automatically donated to a homeless shelter for every pair purchased.
Matsushima is a sophomore and a dual business administration and exercise science major. His product, EZPocket, formerly known as Protein Pod, placed third at the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament and also qualified to compete at the International Business Model Competition. EZPocket offers a convenient transportation method for nutritional protein to maximize the benefits by reducing the amount of time between a workout and administration of the supplement. Matsushima was selected for the Ideadvance grant through direct submission to the competitive program.
Both Mader and Matsushima had previously competed in the Innovation Challenge offered through the Center for Innovation and Business Development within the College of Business and Economics and made possible through financial contributions by AGS Data Systems, WiSys Technology Foundation and UW-Extension. Associate Professor of Management Marina Oaken served as faculty adviser for the program. AGS Data Systems President Derrick Edwards generously donated his time to mentor both teams.
Mader expressed his deep appreciation for the assistance and support he was given in the program.
"My mentors/advisers, Dr. Marina Oaken and Danielle Campeau have been the most wonderful resource and have kept me on track throughout this endeavor," Mader said. "Additionally, Derrick Edwards, a judge at the UWRF Innovation Challenge and local business owner, has volunteered his time as a consultant for the development of Hippy Feet and for preparation for the Big Idea and International Business Model Competition."
Edwards is continuing to assist Mader in the further development of his business in a private capacity.
Vonk was selected for the grant through direct submission to the program. His product, Pivot Interactive, provides interactive resources for science learning.
"I think it's great how the UW-Extension supports budding entrepreneurs," said Vonk. "I'm learning a lot from the Lean Startup class that they are offering. It's both challenging and very informative."
The Lean Startup guides entrepreneurs to "get out of the building" and test their business assumptions utilizing tools such as the Business Model Canvas. This differs from a typical business plan in that entrepreneurs create a hypothesis, test their assumptions with potential customers and pivot their business plan based on the high-quality feedback they receive. Many startup businesses fail and the Lean Startup methodology helps reduce that risk through early testing of assumptions.
For more information, email Campeau at firstname.lastname@example.org.