Imagine giving the biggest presentation of your life not on a big stage, but in your own home. Instead of staring at the spotlight, you watch the little red light next to your computer’s video camera turn on. The surroundings may be different, but the nerves are all the same. You take a deep breath–it’s showtime.
For the last five years, the Trinity University Stumberg Venture Competition has awarded hopeful student startups money and mentorship through a two-part competition. The first–the seed round–takes place in the spring on campus. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trinity closed its residence halls and transitioned classes to remote synchronous learning for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. In effect, all on-campus events were cancelled or postponed.
But this global situation, Luis Martinez '91, Ph.D., says, creates the perfect opportunity for student startups.
“We believe that entrepreneurs and founders will lead the way out of the economic downturn brought upon by COVID-19,” says Martinez, the director for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Trinity. “There is no better time for these students to start their businesses than now. The entrepreneurial mindset of persistence, grit, adaptability, empathy, resourcefulness, opportunity identification, and problem solving are exactly what we teach at Trinity and exactly what is needed now.”
So, the show must go on. On April 9, 2020, ten student teams competed in the Stumberg Venture Competition seed round through a private Zoom video conference with the judges. Each of the six finalists received $5,000 to kickstart their businesses. The next step is Trinity’s Summer Accelerator program–held digitally this year–plus a $4,000 summer stipend.
The finalists are:
Neha Kapur ’22, business analytics and technology
Chiropack aims to re-engineer the daily-wear backpack for students and working professionals who experience back, shoulder, or neck pain.
Tiffany Perez ’21, communication
CompassVet is dedicated to providing quality, reliable, compassionate, and humane at-home pet euthanasia services to customers in greater San Antonio.
Sebastian Trujillo ’22, accounting and finance
Austin Sanders ’22, finance
John Jay ’22, business analytics and technology
Empower Media provides entertainment venues holding 40,000 attendees or more with customizable portable charging and storage devices.
Kincannon Wilson ’22, mathematical finance and economics
Amy Platter ’22, neuroscience and economics
Revive Snacks is committed to helping students live happier and healthier lives with a healthy snack packed with functional ingredients that promote overall health.
Tara Lujan ’22, psychology
Zachary Taylor ’20, computer science
Sapphire increases awareness of hydration levels with a smart replacement lid that fits most bottle brands, automatically recording fluid intake and displaying it conveniently for the user.
Alvaro Marquez ’20, geosciences
Francisco Macias ’20, psychology and philosophy
Tacos Papi prepares authentic Mexican street tacos with traditional family recipes and quality delivery service for San Antonio.
This is the sixth year of the Stumberg Venture Competition, which provides $50,000 in total investments in student startups through both rounds of competition, as well as support, education, and mentoring during the Summer Accelerator program.
The judges for the 2020 seed round consisted of:
Ingrib Harb ’16, founder of Women Ambassadors Forum and 2016 Stumberg finalist
Suja Kamma, CEO and co-founder of FunnelAI
Yoni Mehim, co-founder of Grain4Grain
John West ’02, CEO of Westward Consulting, LLC, and CEO and co-founder of Scraffic Inc.
The stipends for the upcoming summer accelerator program comes from the F.W. Olin Fund for Entrepreneurship E-Teams, established by a gift from Barbara Pritzlaff Pierce and V. Douglas Pierce. Support for the Stumberg Prize comes from the Stumberg Prize endowment established by Herb and Eric Stumberg.
The Stumberg Venture Competition honors the legacy of the late San Antonio businessman and civic leader Louis H. Stumberg. A food industry pioneer, in 1946 he co-founded Patio Mexican Foods, a company that took frozen Tex-Mex foods nationwide. Stumberg was a member of the Trinity University Board of Trustees.